Author Topic: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?  (Read 7314 times)

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gollymolly2

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What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« on: September 16, 2009, 10:20:59 AM »
This has come up in the past but I thought it would be helpful to talk about when each of think it's appropriate to use "What an interesting assumption." People often use it on here in ways that make me go "huh? how is that an assumption?" So I thought if we all talked about what we think interesting assumptions are, we might understand each other better!


For me, an interesting assumption is when someone knows Fact A about me and concludes Fact B about me as a result when there are tons of other reasonable (better?) explanations.

For example, you went to community college? You must not have done well in high school.
Or, you and your bf broke up? You must have nagged him too much about marriage.

Bob Ducca

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2009, 10:48:39 AM »
Yes, exactly.  When I make a comment based on personal experience, and someone comes back with "That's an interesting assumption," they are using the phrase incorrectly, unless my comment was phrased in such a way that makes an assumption about other people.

Example: "In my experience, fewer people are writing thank-you letters."
Not an assumption, interesting or otherwise.

"I bet you didn't write thank-you notes, because I haven't gotten one in years."
Assumption.  And fairly interesting.

MrsO

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2009, 11:00:43 AM »
I agree, Molly. I see it used too often here for my liking, and often in the wrong context.
Your examples are exactly when 'interesting assumption' would be appropriate.

noexitwounds

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2009, 10:45:40 PM »
That's the context I use it in (and unfortunately have reason to use it quite regularly).

Usually it comes up in context of 'Oh, you do [so-called "liberal" activity]? You must support [other "liberal" activity]!" or, in the more benign form (mostly) "Oh, you're from California? You must ..." Love the sun/miss the sun/love Disneyland/have gone to Disneyland a thousand times/know movie stars/etc. I'm a transplant to Illinois for school and I still haven't figured out a more polite way than saying "No, not really."

I do find it used on the boards a little weirdly, usually when people think you stating A means you think (even though you didn't say so) that all A do B.
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CrayonOutlines

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2009, 09:26:10 AM »
My irritation is when people think all assumptions are "interesting assumptions."  For example, "I saw a woman holding a small child and I assumed the child was hers."  That's a plain old assumption, not an interesting one.

I also think "PA" is overused here.  Just because someone is passive doesn't mean s/he is aggressive and just because someone is aggressive doesn't mean s/he is doing it passively.

Elfqueen13

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2009, 09:59:39 AM »
My irritation is when people think all assumptions are "interesting assumptions."  For example, "I saw a woman holding a small child and I assumed the child was hers."  That's a plain old assumption, not an interesting one.

I also think "PA" is overused here.  Just because someone is passive doesn't mean s/he is aggressive and just because someone is aggressive doesn't mean s/he is doing it passively.

I also see significant confusion between "passive-aggressive" and "tactful".
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gibsongirl

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2009, 08:10:33 AM »
My irritation is when people think all assumptions are "interesting assumptions."  For example, "I saw a woman holding a small child and I assumed the child was hers."  That's a plain old assumption, not an interesting one.

I also think "PA" is overused here.  Just because someone is passive doesn't mean s/he is aggressive and just because someone is aggressive doesn't mean s/he is doing it passively.

I also see significant confusion between "passive-aggressive" and "tactful".

When I use PA, I think manipulative, whereas when I use tactful, I think deflecting.

I think assumptions about my ability based on my gender are interesting...and I usually up my competency accordingly to knock that assumption right out of the water.

hobish

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2009, 10:08:21 AM »
Quote
For me, an interesting assumption is when someone knows Fact A about me and concludes Fact B about me as a result when there are tons of other reasonable (better?) explanations.

For example, you went to community college? You must not have done well in high school.
Or, you and your bf broke up? You must have nagged him too much about marriage.

That is exactly what it means.

If i might make an example, i have used it once in real life, and it was the perfect response. My grandmother's nurse made a comment to me that since i am not married i am living in sin. "Hmm, what an intersting assumption" was the only thing i could think of saying in the face of such audacity. It was a good line to have on hand when the comment was so incredibly rude and i would have probably been speechless otherwise.

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Marietta

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2009, 09:47:24 PM »
I think this is one of those phrases that is better thought than said much of the time.

It seems ideal for, as PPs have said, unreasonable and offensive leaps, and is an admirably polite response to extreme rudeness. But it almost always feels jarring and rude to me on this forum, because with the forum's general knowledge of the phrase, it is basically calling someone a rude boor who must have a "line" used on them because they wouldn't know etiquette if an unusually polite octopus smacked them in the face. If you wouldn't say that in the context, you probably shouldn't use that phrase here. ;)

And while I think sometimes people label things "PA" too often when someone is trying to be tactful or is unmaliciously low-grade manipulative, it does strike me as very much passive-aggressive to essentially call someone a rude idiot while hiding behind a "polite" line. Etiquette is always about context.
     

Marbles

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2009, 10:59:44 PM »
I also believe that it is a line best used when you are not trying to foster a relationship with a person or promote a conversation. It is a simple way to tell a person - usually a stranger - that a comment they make to you is not correct, makes a poor analogy, or jumps to an unwarranted conclusion AND that the comment is so out of line that it is not worthwhile to argue about/explain it.

I believe the origin of the phrase on this board was a story of a woman who was playing in the park with her two children. Another person approached and complemented her on their cuteness and then followed up by asking if the kids had the same father. Mom gives the interesing assumption line.

I don't think that using it on this board is helpful or productive. Even when used correctly, it does not promote civil discourse. On ehell, I would much rather see us ask clarifying questions of each other to promote understanding.

Nornster

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2009, 11:06:54 PM »
Marietta, I think an unusually polite octopus wouldn't smack anyone :-)  An averagely polite octopus, maybe - after all, with eight arms, it's quite a temptation!

Elfqueen13

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2009, 09:52:34 AM »
I think this is one of those phrases that is better thought than said much of the time.

It seems ideal for, as PPs have said, unreasonable and offensive leaps, and is an admirably polite response to extreme rudeness. But it almost always feels jarring and rude to me on this forum, because with the forum's general knowledge of the phrase, it is basically calling someone a rude boor who must have a "line" used on them because they wouldn't know etiquette if an unusually polite octopus smacked them in the face. If you wouldn't say that in the context, you probably shouldn't use that phrase here. ;)

And while I think sometimes people label things "PA" too often when someone is trying to be tactful or is unmaliciously low-grade manipulative, it does strike me as very much passive-aggressive to essentially call someone a rude idiot while hiding behind a "polite" line. Etiquette is always about context.

I think the bolded line is possibly the most important phrase I've ever seen here on this site.  Many of us (and I admit I've done it too) get very adamant about certain points of etiquette and take a very black-and-white view of things.  Considering context is what keeps us from retaliatory rudeness, which I feel to be the very worst kind.
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TychaBrahe

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2009, 04:41:54 PM »
I think "interesting assumption" is incredibly dismissive and should probably never be used between members of this board.  You use it when the person who has said whatever is prompting it is incredibly rude and you have no interest in correcting the assumption.  It also means, "The fact that you would think so says more about you than about the situation."

For example, two women are at a bar catching up.  Guy walks up to them and asks to join them or to have one of them dance with him or to buy them a drink.  They decline.  Guy says, "Well, I guess you're l*sbians then."  If either woman wants to comment, "That's an interesting assumption," would work here.

Another example, a man has married a woman who is not conventionally attractive.  When he is at an event with her, another woman comes up to him and says, "So, did you get her pregnant?" or "I guess she has money."  The man looks at the woman and says the magic phrase, before turning abruptly away and ignoring her for the rest of the evening.

I see people using this phrase on the board, and it always comes at a point where tempers are starting to flare.  It would be so much better if people would say, "But you are assuming X, when Y or Z are equally likely."  This is not nearly as dismissive.  In anyone on eHell deserves to be IA'd, I would hope a mod would deal with them first.
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Bob Ducca

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2009, 09:29:43 PM »
I think "interesting assumption" is incredibly dismissive and should probably never be used between members of this board.  You use it when the person who has said whatever is prompting it is incredibly rude and you have no interest in correcting the assumption.  It also means, "The fact that you would think so says more about you than about the situation."

<snip>

I see people using this phrase on the board, and it always comes at a point where tempers are starting to flare.  It would be so much better if people would say, "But you are assuming X, when Y or Z are equally likely."  This is not nearly as dismissive.  In anyone on eHell deserves to be IA'd, I would hope a mod would deal with them first.

I completely agree.  I know that most of the threads I have posted in lately that became contentious included posters jumping to "the line" pretty quickly, after no attempt to engage otherwise.

Really, it would be cool to say, "I don't understand why you've leaped to that conclusion" or "the facts we have here don't support that statement."  The line, when used in place of those two phrases, really comes across as hostile and dismissive.

Since the point of this board is ostensibly debate and discussion, trotting out the IA line when you disagree with someone really seems to run counter to the board's purpose, because it is designed to shut people down, not keep discussion going.

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Re: What does "Interesting Assumption" mean?
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2009, 10:01:31 PM »
I tend to fall back on my training and say, in a slightly amused tone, "Objection.  Assumes facts not in evidence," and leave them to try to figure out what the HECK I just said.  But this phrase is much, much better.  I shall use it.
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