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July 22nd, 2018

“It is one of the delights of science that common sense is so often wrong” – Richard Passingham



If this is the case, then we are disabled in ways that we can only have the most round-about awareness.  Like sneaking through the backdoor of decision making.


If common sense can be wrong.  Wouldn’t it be prudent, dare we say wise, to question our common sense?


Change blindness is a well documented perceptual phenomenon where large portions of a visual field – say the back drop of a theatrical performance – can be changed without the audience knowing.

This concept can be seen in many aspects of our little human game.


Take for example the anxiety-filled experience of the yearly family get-together.


She’s lost so much weight!”


“He’s gotten so fat!”


“You’re so skinny!”


“You’re looking healthy!”


Very often, the first comments are about the most obvious changes.


And if there is no obvious change, do we make the mistake of thinking that there hasn’t been a change?


This is the trap of Rose-Colored Cuffs.  Just because someone looks the same, does not mean they are the same person.  People not only have new experiences in the intervening times between our reunions, but it’s been shown that personalities change, shift, and evolve over time.


It’s a productive line of thinking to draw a correlation between the obvious changes and the unseen changes.  If someone has lost a good deal of weight, rest assured, it is because of another change, or multiple changes a person has made that do not come along with their visual appearance.


The trap takes the same logic in the other direction.  Internal changes, or unseen changes don’t always create changes we can easily notice. 


Such things often require a generous heap of warm and welcoming conversation. 


Often a difficult thing to come by when people who have long-known us speak with unconscious assumption that we remain the same.


Pending any obvious – often physical – changes they might notice.


The only safe assumption that we can make, is that our ideas about other people are probably wrong.



Or rather:


The only safe assumption that we can make, is that our assumptions are probably wrong.


The trick is to figure out if what we are saying, thinking or doing is based on an assumption.



This episode references Episode 33: Rose-Colored Cuffs.  If you’d like to fully understand the reference, please check out that episode next.

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Podcast Ep. 98: Safe Assumption

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