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Home / Articles / Columnists / Life 101 /  Jumping to Conclusions vs. Jumping to Truth
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Tuesday, March 6,2012

Jumping to Conclusions vs. Jumping to Truth

By Cary Bayer  

Recently, I received a private message on Facebook from an author who accused me of having “low moral fiber.” She didn’t say why, she just insulted me right there in cyber space. Not knowing why she impugned my character, I inquired as to what motivated her attack. She then went on to explain her rationale: that I was conducting workshops that, she said, ripped off her book. Ah, at last, something specific.

So I went on the Internet to find out when she had published her book—a book, I might add, that I had never read a single page of, nor had I ever even seen. It turned out that her book was printed in February of 2009. The workshop of mine that she claimed that I developed as a rip off of her book, was launched in April of 2008. So, the facts are that I was publicly teaching my class nearly a year before her book ever became public. The workshop was also more than a year in development, so I had started creating the class at the end of 2006.

If it ever dawned on her to research when my first such class was introduced she never would have made such an accusation in the first place. A couple of minutes on the Internet would have revealed to her that my program had been available before her book was known to the world. Asking me a simple question like, “When did you introduce your workshop?” would also have told her that my teaching preceded hers. But she either never thought to do such things or just found it easier to jump to conclusions and accuse.

Aside from her lack of curiosity or intellectual laziness, there’s a dangerous strain of contentiousness that’s all too common these days. We see it in Congress on a daily basis; we’ve even heard a member of the House of Representatives heckle the President of the United States when he was addressing a joint session of Congress.

By jumping to conclusions, she reminded me of Christ’s parable about the builder who erects his home on sand. When rains and tide come it gets destroyed. So do accusations based on faulty premises.

What I found even more shocking than this author’s quick accusation against me was her unwillingness to respond to my Facebook message to her, which explained clearly that I had been public with my workshop nearly a full year before her book. Instead, she fell silent. While her Facebook postings were rapid when she was accusing me, they ceased once she learned the facts. It’s been nearly two weeks now. I have a strong feeling that if you ask me two years from now if she has responded, I would probably have to say no.

What is the “Life 101” lesson in this story? Let me sum it up as follows:

1. Do your research before you accuse someone of something, especially if it’s as heinous as “low moral fiber.”

2. If you accuse someone of something only to discover that your accusation is wrong, you should quickly—I mean like in a New York minute—withdraw the accusation. And if you’ve shared your accusation of someone with others, you owe it to the person whom you’ve wronged to let the others know that you were wrong. In other words, be as quick to right the wrong as you were when you made the other person wrong in the first place. Said differently: be as attached to admitting that you’re wrong as you are attached to being right.

3. Sincerely and humbly apologize to the person whom you’ve wronged.

4. Jumping to conclusions makes great premises for sitcoms—see I Love Lucy--but they kill relationships. Here’s a funny version of what jumping to conclusions can look like. It’s from Duck Soup, the anti-war Marx Brothers film with Groucho as the conclusion-jumping president of Freedonia, who builds a scenario on sand, with whom he’s had a falling out.

Groucho: “I’m only too happy to meet with Ambassador Trentino and offer him, on behalf of my country, the right hand of good fellowship. And I feel sure that he will accept this gesture in the spirit in which it is offered….But suppose he doesn’t? A fine thing that’ll be! I hold out my hand and he refuses to accept it! That’ll add a lot to my prestige, won’t it? (Shouting indignantly) Me, the head of a country, snubbed by a foreign ambassador! Who does he think he is that he can come here and make a sap out of me in front of all my people? Think of it! (Working himself up) hold out my hand and that hyena refuses to accept it! Why, the cheap, fourflushing swine! He’ll never get away with it, I tell you! (At that moment, Trentino enters with a retinue…) So! You refuse to shake hands with me, eh?” (He slaps Trentino with his gloves. And the two countries go to war.)

Instead of jumping to conclusions, jump to research, and jump to finding out the truth. And if you’ve ever wronged someone in the past, jump to apologize.


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