The Danger of Assumptions – Part 1

By Reg Scheepers

911 World Trade CentreI really don’t know why I think of things like this, but last night I was pondering the subject of conspiracies.

I like conspiracy theorists. I like the way their brains work. I think they keep people honest, cause they’re doubting Thomases by nature. They keep it real.

But as I was lying in bed, I realised that conspiracy theorists lack credibility because they make two mistakes in forming and communicating their theories.

Here are the two mistakes and how they can benefit you in a huge way if you apply these two lessons to your own life.

The human mind has been designed to be on the look out for patterns, whether something as simple as patterns of clouds in the sky forming familiar shapes, or patterns in which events or situations make sense. It’s how the mind operates.

It’s fun and interesting to look at world events and various happenings around you and use that info to try and spot patterns, predict future events etc., but conspiracy theorists make some key mistakes in their otherwise fun, light-hearted efforts, and those mistakes are the reasons why most people look at them as freaks and weirdos.

The other day I was watching that movie with Michael Douglas where he’s part of the Secret Service. When one of the agents are killed a detective from the police department makes some comment about how or why he was killed, and justifies it with “It’s a gut feel”, or “it’s a hunch”.

The Secret Service agent remarks, “You know what I don’t like about hunches? The only evidence you see from that point on is the evidence that supports your hunch.”

The first mistake conspiracy theorists make

They think the patterns they spot, by the mere fact that they are there, necessarily imply significance or meaning.

Just because there’s a pattern doesn’t mean the pattern was intentionally designed to be there.

Just because you can draw a pentagram between the white house, the pentagon, and some other significant American landmarks, doesn’t mean the American government is evil.

I bet I could find a pentagram in the freckles of the conspiracy theorist who saw that pattern.

Example: http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/chapter3/

I’m not saying some people don’t have hidden agendas and that everything is as it seems, or that you can take everything at face value. I’m not saying all conspiracy theories are wrong just cause they’re conspiracy theories.

But I am saying that when your mind sees a pattern, see it for what it is. Conspiracy theorists always speak about their theories as if they’re fact, just cause they saw a pattern. That pattern doesn’t represent how things necessarily are. It represents how things could possibly be.

The second mistake conspiracy theorists make

They try to force a pattern.

I’ve copied the following from http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/5639.htm

“Do you know that Bill gates’ REAL name is William Henry Gates III? His official REAL name NOW, is BILL GATES III. So, what’s so eerie about this name? OK, if you take all the letters in Bill Gates III and then convert it in ASCII code (american standard code for information interchange) and then ADD up all the numbers…you will get 666, which is the number of the beast!!! SICK!! Coincidence har? Nope. Take WINDOWS 95 and do the SAME procedure and you will get 666 too!!! and the same goes for MS-DOS 6.31!!! Sicko rite?”

DOS 6.31? Are you kidding? See how the pattern is being forced? I can see the conspiracy theorist thinking to himself, “Wow John, now all you have to do is find the correct version number and you can prove that Bill Gates is the anti-christ!”

And Bill Gates’ “REAL OFFICIAL” name is William Henry Gates III, as his momma named him. People just call him Bill as they often do with people named William.

Sad thing is, as a kid, a school teacher showed this to me; that’s how I came to know about it. These were the people who were in charge of my education. Scary!

Now how much money would you like to bet that some conspiracy theorist will mark me as “in on the plot” because of this little blog post?

How can this benefit you in your everyday life?

You might not think up conspiracy theories. How does this post apply to everyday people in everyday life?

Simply be aware of the fact that your mind is constantly looking for patterns. It’s always trying to connect the dots, make sense out of things.

As you connect the dots, unless you have hard evidence to support your conclusion, be aware that the logical conclusion that emerges could be as much an illusion as are clouds in the sky that have the pattern of a dog or a hand.

My partner in Brothers in Beat, Harry, is also my greatest friend. One fine night, when I was much younger mind you, some of my other friends and I decided to egg his house.

We knew his dad would shoot us if we were caught, hence the appeal. Our good friend Ronald was told to do the evil deed while we man the get-away car, a Mazda MX6. The Mazda MX6 was a two door car and access to the back seats was difficult.

As Ronald threw his last egg we all shouted, “THEO!! THEO!!” (Harry’s dad’s name). Ronald couldn’t run fast enough, and to make it worse I started driving away. Seeing Ronald’s toothpick legs working like little pistons was the funniest thing we ever saw.

Ronald finally managed to dive into the car, his thin legs dangling out the window, flailing wildly trying to squeeze into the back.

Well to cut a long story short, I never told Harry it was me. To hear him speak about his theories about who it was and why they did it, was funny. He was so sure. After all, it made perfect sense.

Until one day, many years later, recently, I couldn’t hold back my laughter and confessed.

The moral of the story and this post is to resist the temptation to make assumptions and connect the dots along the path of least resistance – what seems to be the most likely path.

Your mind can take you down a long road of blaming and accusations when there might be no real substance to your assumption; it might just be clouds in the sky forming a pattern that makes sense. It might just be your own little conspiracy theory.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken my own advice on this, and when the truth comes out, I’m glad I didn’t react to my theory about what happened.

I can’t tell you how many times I have NOT taken my own advice on this, and looked like a royal jackass.

I LOVE the following clip. The words haven’t been changed at all but you would swear they have. Try closing your eyes and see if you can still hear anything in English. Then open your eyes and read the text and suddenly you can’t help but hear what you’re reading. Amazeballs!