Why avoid jumping to conclusions?

A picture of a man jumping of a cliff and with a Confucius quote.

One Saturday night a man visited a city bar. After a time he discovered that his wallet was missing. Immediately he jumped to the conclusion that two men at the bar had lifted it from his pocket. Accusations were made, and a fight ensued. Suddenly the man grabbed a gun and shot the other two men, one of them fatally. On leaving the bar he went to his car, and there on the seat was the missing wallet! It had slipped out of his pocket."

How terrible the consequences can be when one jumps to conclusions!

Examples of jumping to conclusions


While seldom may the effect be as deadly as in the above instance, another’s reputation often is unjustly damaged.

Hard feelings and strained relations can result. People may grow cold towards their good neighbors, and avoid them, simply because of failing to decide on the basis of facts.

For example, it has often happened that a person jumps to conclusion that an acquaintance is angry with him merely because he failed to speak when they passed each other.

As a result the attitude may be taken, ‘if that is the way he wants to be, I won’t speak to him either.’

But nine times out of ten the person has jumped to the wrong conclusion. His acquaintance is not angry with him; he may have simply been absorbed in thought and failed to notice.

How sad it is that friendly relations should be damaged over such a small thing! Yet this regularly happens when judgments are based on emotions rather than facts.

Jumping to wrong conclusions can particularly upset family relations.

A husband may arrive home late for dinner and by the time he walks in the door his wife so angry that she lights into him before he has an opportunity to greet her.

She concludes that he has been inconsiderate for not advising her that he was going to be late. What an injustice this can be!

Especially when she finds out that he was involved in an accident and was in no position to notify her.

There is no question that failure to decide on the basis of facts can have serious consequences.

It is not uncommon also for a person who sees his marriage mate speaking to a friend of the opposite sex to jump to the conclusion that much more is going on than meets the eye.

There may be no facts or evidence to this effect, only suspicions. Yet accusations are made, and a verbal fight ensues. The marriage is often the fatality.

Another common mistake is to form opinions of people based on first impressions. Once in a while you will hear a person remark after meeting someone,

She impress me as being very proud.” On what is the conclusion based? Probably, not on any real evidence.

Perhaps memories of a former acquaintance who had similar facial expressions or mannerism are responsible for that opinion that this person is of the same disposition.

But how unfair to jump to conclusions before getting to know someone! A barrier may be raised on what otherwise might develop into a pleasant friendship. Wise persons are not hasty about forming opinions.

Many times popular prejudices are responsible for biased conclusions. In some localities, for instance, the popular belief is that certain races are inferior and have a greater disposition to criminal activities than others.

So when a crime is committed you will often hear persons jump to a conclusion, blaming the unpopular minority.

Yet those who are in the majority here may be in the minority elsewhere, and there, because of a different set of local prejudices, they find that they are under suspicions.

How foolish! How unfair it is to jump to conclusions on the popular prejudice.

People in positions of responsibility particularly need to guard against jumping to conclusions.

When another person’s welfare is at stake, it is no time to make snap decisions. It is a serious wrong to judge a matter without considering all evidence.

One’s personal feeling, or what seems to be so, should not be the determining factor. One ought to be governed by facts.

Appropriately, a matter should be decided on the basis of evidence from the mouth of at least two or three witnesses.

Conclusion


Fittingly it has to be said that digging for factors is a far better exercise than jumping to conclusions! So do not go by hearsay or what is popular.

Investigate your beliefs in the light of reliable evidence. Examine them with an open mind.

Be willing even to study to determine what is true and what is false. By all means, do not jump to conclusions.

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