Author Topic: assumptions vs. deductions  (Read 7651 times)

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PeasNCues

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assumptions vs. deductions
« on: November 08, 2010, 08:18:08 AM »
I wasn't sure where to put this - mods please do move if you see fit.

I see a lot of "Well, you made an assumption" comments being thrown around in the forum. My issue with this is that at least 50% of the time, it wasn't an assumption, it was a deduction. A reasonable deduction. But, no one can say anything without someone saying, "that's an assumption" even though the statement was made based on observation and reasoning, not just blind labeling.

On the flip side of this, posters are often encouraged to make assumptions about people. For example, someone states that someone was rude to them and we get 100 medical and psychological reasons why they would act like that, with many people projecting their own unique experiences on the rude person to make excuses for them.

So, I guess my question is when does something stop being an assumption and become a deduction?
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Jan74

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2010, 09:20:50 AM »
I see your point there. For example, you see a woman driving a car that has a child's car seat in it. Even if there is no child in it, you can safely deduce she has a child. If she turns out she is the childfree aunt who borrowed the car for the day, it is still not an offensive assumption at all.

Now, if you see a woman over 30 wearing a wedding band, and you assume she has a child - that is an assumption.

As for the medical excuses, I get tired of them as well. Yes, someone who shoved you in line might be almost legally blind/suffer from a balance disorder/psychological problems/have had their entire family die 10m before they decided to go grocery shopping, but I do think in this case, Occam's razor applies - the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. So they were probably just in a hurry and don't care if they shove you.  ;)

lilfox

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2010, 01:57:24 PM »
The difficulty is that people may have different criteria for making a conclusion based on deduction or assumption.  If you described a person with a lot of the symptoms of Asberger's without stating that a medical diagnosis had been made, for example, and the next poster says "Oh that sounds like Asberger's", some people will say "unfair assumption, lots of non-spectrum people do x and y and z" and others may say "reasonable deduction, my experience with or knowledge of Asberger's matches that description."

FWIW, I always thought a lot of Holmes' deductions were pretty big assumptions ("I deduce from the victim's posture that he was a life-long cello player who spent weekends maintaining a vineyard and painted risque watercolors")

Jan74

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2010, 02:58:10 PM »
But the actual big assumption there would be that someone with Asperger's would be excused from basic rules of civility. So whatever caused their rudeness, they'd still be rude, you know? An explanation is not the same as an excuse.

Dindrane

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2010, 05:27:56 PM »
Peas, I think you've got a good point, but I think there's another facet to this particular topic.  It seems like there are basically two categories of people, when you have incomplete information: those who are comfortable extrapolating from the facts we have, and those who are not.  I think that people comfortable extrapolating are rather in the majority, but the problem is that they don't always agree on what facts can be extrapolated, and how far.

So for instance, if you have a woman getting into a car with a car-seat, one poster says that you can't assume anything about the situation at all.  A second poster says that you can assume it's her car, but not that the car seat means she personally has children.  A third poster says that you can assume it is her car and that she personally has at least one child.

None of these posters will agree with each other completely, even though 2/3 of them are making deductions based off of what we know.  2 of the posters will think that at least one other person is making an unfair assumption.  2 of the posters will think that at least 1 person is being unreasonable for calling it an assumption instead of a deduction.

I think this type of disagreement in what's appropriate actually becomes less obvious with more complex situations.  There are enough ways to disagree about interpretations that it's more difficult to see that you at least agree it's reasonable to extrapolate the facts into those various interpretations.  Plus, you're more likely to have posters who have opposing viewpoints based one extrapolating the same facts to the same degree...but in different directions.  They will not always see that they are reaching their conclusions via the same method, and you can sometimes get a situation where they both think the other is making a lot of unfair assumptions.

I do agree with Jan74, though, that the best rule of thumb is to keep explanations as simple as possible.  Extrapolating one fact to reach a conclusion is a very different sort of exercise than extrapolating all but one fact to reach a conclusion.  And in situations where it just isn't possible to reach any sort of conclusion without extrapolating a lot of the available information (generally because there isn't much information available), I think it's often better to just avoid discussing that which we cannot ever know for sure.


gollymolly2

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2010, 05:33:06 PM »
I think the thing is that a deduction and an assumption are not fundamentally different.  So the question is not assumption vs. reasonable deduction, but instead unreasonable assumption/deduction vs. reasonable assumption/deduction.

I'm sure there's a big gray area between the two - some things will be unreasonable to some people and reasonable to others.  BUT, "what an interesting assumption" is supposed to be reserved for cases in which someone makes wildly inappropriate assumptions.  So it really bothers me to see posters using "what an interesting assumption" on other posters for what are really assumptions that are either reasonable or fall into that gray area.

MrsO

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2010, 05:45:15 PM »
Peas, I completely agree. Sometimes it is a perfectly reasonable, inoffensive assumption- not an 'interesting' one at all.

veryfluffy

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2010, 05:55:32 PM »
It's something like this: You are in the grocery store, and in your trolley are two boxes of cat food, a tin of tuna, a bag of cat litter, a single-serving frozen lasagna, a mega-size bar of chocolate, a box of tampons, and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

Deduction: You have a cat. Yes, it's quite possible you are picking up the cat items for a friend or your mother, but the tin of tuna suggests that you love the cat. Your "I love my cat" canvas carrier bag rather reinforces the deduction.

Assumption: You live alone, and you have your period. See food items. Nothing interesting about the assumption. It may or may not be true, but there is no value-judgement or tangent here.

Interesting assumption: You are a miserable, hormonal, single alcoholic.
   

Squeaks

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2010, 05:58:41 PM »
I think one good line between deduction and assumption is assumption I think are less open to correction/modification.  It is more like you have already made up your mind.  A deduction is more of reason for thinking the way you do.  Sorta an If X then Y situation but if X turns out to be Z than that changes it.  An assumption is more "It is Y"

As for the medical,  I think it is helpful to facilitate understanding.  It does not excuse the behavior, nor does it have to be a diagnosis even, but saying "This is a sign of x" can be useful information in general.


RainhaDoTexugo

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2010, 06:01:27 PM »
It's something like this: You are in the grocery store, and in your trolley are two boxes of cat food, a tin of tuna, a bag of cat litter, a single-serving frozen lasagna, a mega-size bar of chocolate, a box of tampons, and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

Deduction: You have a cat. Yes, it's quite possible you are picking up the cat items for a friend or your mother, but the tin of tuna suggests that you love the cat. Your "I love my cat" canvas carrier bag rather reinforces the deduction.

Assumption: You live alone, and you have your period. See food items. Nothing interesting about the assumption. It may or may not be true, but there is no value-judgement or tangent here.

Interesting assumption: You are a miserable, hormonal, single alcoholic.

I think this sums it up quite nicely.  Humans are wired to make deductions and assumptions - I doubt anybody here doesn't make them at some point, it's just how we navigate society.  They key is to make sure your own assumptions and deductions aren't interesting, and also to consider whether someone making an untrue assumption about you has a logical basis for it before reacting.

shhh its me

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2010, 06:05:52 PM »
  I think there's a huge difference between presuming , assuming , extrapolating, concluding etc. I do think a bit more weight needs to be given to more credible conclusion then secondary conclusion and assumptions, but assumptions aren't necessarily bad.  I find that sometimes we start with a pretty reasonable conclusion and add assumptions sometimes until we get to a million to one possibilities. In additional some assumptions are healthy and polite to make. If we actually confirm everything we assumed ,presumed etc.  we'd do nothing all day but ask and confirm things.  I see you appear to have breast , wear makeup and a skirt , shall I conclude you wish to be addressed as Mrs/Ms/Miss or do you preffed Mr.? we draw hundreds of conclusions and assumptions daily.


In the thread your talking about , with the direction it was taking I do think the assumption train got a bit long. The context and conclusion were appropriate for the question you asked but not for where the thread went..........
 I observed child that appeared to have X , became since the child has X and was over sensitive to stimulus it is obviously dangerous etc there were a few additional steps. The point was treated X as a diagnosis for the sake of declaring a situation dangerous was an assumption for the sake of a child with X like presentation how should people react to a meltdown it was a reasonable conclusion. A conclusion can become an assumption or an intersinging depending on context. Does that make any sense?

judecat

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2011, 05:00:13 PM »
I think we all make assumptions,  even unfounded assumptions,  but I don't think it's rude unless we act on those assumptions. 
As I stated in another thread,  my best friend is about 12 years younger than me,  but she is a rather young looking 45.   Her ex husband is a few years younger than her,  and her daughter (my goddaughter) is 14.   My goddaughter calls me by the nickname Dodie.   In our neighborhood it is rather common to have grandparents called by cutesy nicknames.   
Most people assume she's my granddaughter -- which is a reasonable assumption if incorrect.
Quiet a few people have assumed I was her father's mother which is also a reasonable assumption.
A few people have assumed that I'm her mother's mother,  which is not quiet reasonable,  but possible.

In a restaurant waiting to order, if I step out to smoke,  sometimes the waitress will ask GD what her grandmother would like to order.   No problem at all.
If they ask her mother what her mother want's,  that's not even a problem,  just a mistaken assumption.
Someone coming up to me and asking me how old I was when I had my daughter is pushing it.  Someone deciding to berate me for being a teem mother is really really really rude.

Allyson

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2011, 04:25:43 PM »
I think part of it is that "interesting assumption" means on this board, something very negative. But as it contains the word 'assumption', hearing it over and over, especially when not everybody agrees on what makes the 'assumption' 'interesting' may lead to some feelings like any assumptions at all are necessarily bad.

My best guy friend and I go to restaurants all the time--staff often assume we're dating. Not an offensive assumption at all. If someone were to then see me with my boyfriend and go off on me for cheating on him, that would be 'interesting'! (And would just cause everyone involved to be very amused, but that's neither here nor there...)

There's also grey areas--what to one person is not insulting, might be to another, for various reasons. For example, if I assume based on deductions that someone I know is gay. Now, to me, there's nothing negative attached there, but depending on what it's based off of, it could be a problem, because many gay stereotypes are negative or just wrong.

Twik

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2011, 05:26:19 PM »
Remember that the original reason for the phrase "that's an interesting assumption" was a way to respond to something quite insulting with a double meaning. The insulter would walk away thinking, "Hey, I'm interesting," while the insulted would be able to think, "Yes, very interesting what that assumption revealed about you!"

I agree that life often calls on us to make reasonable assumptions, that sometimes, due to insufficient evidence, may end up being reasonable but totally wrong. I suppose in debate that shouldn't be considered an "interesting assumption," just "assumption on facts not in evidence".
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NotCinderell

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Re: assumptions vs. deductions
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2011, 06:49:50 AM »
I think that this largely comes down to benefit of the doubt.  You're not supposed to assume unfavorable things about people unless you have lots of evidence to back them up.