Do people base their decisions on facts or assumptions?

United States
July 24, 2010 9:24am CST
I attended a class taught by a former lawyer. He quit his job because he got fed up with jurors whose decisions were not based on the factual evidence presented. So he made it his life's goal to teach people to make the distinction between a factual statement (which can be proven to be true with evidence), and a mere assumption (which is not based on evidence but on things such as rumors, hearsay, or simply what somebody else said). He therefore taught that people should base their decisions on facts, not assumptions. How about you? Do you usually base your decisions on facts or on assumptions? Do you think other people make decisions based on facts or assumptions? Thanks for your feedback.
1 person likes this
8 responses
• Malaysia
25 Jul 10
well... fact are the needed as the base of decisions. but somehow, facts are just a data gathered mostly from the past actions or developments. people assume when most of the facts gathered and analyzed and assume the future will be. example, if the person commit certain same crime in the past for certain of period, should we assume he will change or should we assume he will do the same thing again in the future? i guess that's how the fact and assumptions works in decision making.
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
28 Jul 10
You're talking about likelihood and probability, and that depends whether the perp can actually control their behavior or not. If someone feels no remorse and doesn't even see that they did anything wrong, then in all likelihood they will repeat the crime because it isn't and wasn't a crime 'to them'.
@chookie1971 (2277)
• Australia
25 Jul 10
I think people of today tend to base their decisions on assumptions. A good example of this in my life is, I had a friend who was single for a while. He met up with someone that he fell in love with. I didn't mind because he deserved to be happy with someone after his marriage break up. But with this new woman, she didn't feel secure in her relationship with my friend. She made up lies and he believed her. His accusations where not based on facts. I asked him, what proof does he have to make those accusations. He had only the word of his partner and my word. Well at the end of the day, I know what is truth and that is the most important thing to me.
• United States
26 Jul 10
That raises another very important point. We believe our sources of information if we think our sources are reliable. In this case (and perhaps there's an emotional component to this also), your friend considers her words to be reliable. I sometimes take for granted what is told to me is true just because the person who told me is usually truthful or reliable, only to discover that the person had made a mistake or made an assumption. So the information the person gave me was false. But I'll never forget one incident during my college days. There was an election on campus to elect members of the student council, and there were two main parties, the liberal and conservative parties. On the day of the election, the school newspaper quoted a member of the conservative party, "Vote for our party because we represent white people." As you can imagine, they lost the election because everyone thought they were racist. After the election, the reporter of the school newspaper who wrote that article confessed that he fabricated that story and that no one in the conservative party made that statement. He didn't apologize for doing it. He was not punished by the university for doing it. And he said that when he graduates from college, he wants to become a professional journalist. So how do we know if the information being fed to us by a particular source, is actually true?
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@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
28 Jul 10
I am very skeptical of 'public' sources of information for exactly the example you pointed out. Politicians, newscasters, journalists, the whole lot of them tend to use their overblown reach of the media as ways to feed info to the public which may be OPINIONS and EDITORIAL content rather than FACTS. Yes, this risk is also present with friends, but friends and people I actually know are less likely to purposely mislead me or misrepresent something on purpose just to make a buck, scare me, or convince me to do or not do something. Besides, a friend doesn't gloat over playing someone for a fool but the media sure seems to.
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
25 Jul 10
I tend to make my decisions based on my experience, which is usually based on facts, but again since it's my experience, it's unique. For instance, say you and I are sitting across from each other with a cup in the middle of a coffee table. I ask you what's on the table and you say 'a cup that says pepsi on it'. You ask me what's on the table and I say 'a blue cup with a red and white stripe on it.' Now, we're looking at the same thing but apparently it looks different depending on what side you're sitting on. It's still a cup, but it's not the same. If we were to say the cup looked the same to each of us, that would be assuming both sides looked exactly the same, which they don't. Then you could even go further and take the lid off and ask me about the drink - I'll tell you it's half full. However, maybe you're a 'half empty' sort. You'll tell me it's half empty. So what is it? I do feel a lot of people make decisions based on assumptions, which includes snap judgements and stereotypes, both of which are ridiculous, but people really should use their experience to guide them, not SIMPLY facts alone by themselves.
• United States
26 Jul 10
You do raise an important point. I also rely on my own personal experiences to sometimes guide my decision-making. I think most human beings do this out of necessity. For example, if I played with matches as a child and got burned, then I learned from that experience not to play with matches again. But, I also realize that experiences can have a negative impact as well. I remember serving on jury duty and we were trying to decide how much an auto accident victim was entitled to receive in compensation. One juror said "the wimp" should receive nothing. When we asked why, this juror said that when he experienced a serious injury, he just bore it "like a man" without complaint, so this "wimp" should be a man and bear it without complaint also. So I'm curious to find out, how do we evaluate if our experience is leading us to the right decision?
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@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
28 Jul 10
Within a group of people - say on a jury, you have to weigh the decision based on the collective experiences of the members present. There will always be a person who is way outside the norm on either end of the scale, that's just a given, and I think that's why a jury is comprised of 12 people lol. If you're making a decision together with a significant other or a spouse, you weigh that decision taking both persons' feelings and opinions into account. If it's a sole decision, then you just have to be open minded, as well as use your experience as a guide. I believe life is more of an experiment than we realize, and success or 'the right decision' is dependent on making it to the end of your journey with fewer regrets. Personal success and the right choices are not static or absolute values. There are times when I wish we could just cheerfully exclaim 'do over!' if something didn't turn out the way we hoped. Things get complicated when we become adults.
@jennyze (7048)
• Indonesia
25 Jul 10
People is unique, and one is different from another. So, I cannot say how other people make their decisions. For me, I use both. I will gather the fact and I will hear what other people say about it. Then I will decide based on which one is the nearest to what I have been thinking all along.
• United States
26 Jul 10
That's actually pretty good. Most people I know don't do that. The lawyer who taught the class did say we should take time to gather the facts and get input or feedback from others. So hopefully, this increases your chances at arriving at the truth.
@hushi22 (4941)
24 Jul 10
I think both. It's usually a mixed of two. By the way, I like your username here. it reflects the stage of a toddler. why? why? why?
• United States
25 Jul 10
Thanks. People told me that I should have a youthful outlook. So I took their advice and decided to have the mind of a 5-year old;-) But seriously, my co-workers and supervisors tell me I ask too many questions. So that's why I thought this username was appropriate.
@PDBME2 (1023)
• United States
24 Jul 10
I think alot of people base their opinions on assumptions. Facts are nice and are necessary when picked to be a juror because the proof must be "beyond a reasonable doubt". I have seen so many people listen to the gossip of other people without approaching the party directly. What about job interviews? Do most employers base it on the facts that this person is qualified or do they call previous employers to base it at times on what they say? When you look at someone do you judge them by their looks or by who they are in life or had been? Religion cannot be proven, because if you take the Bible to someone they will say it's your proof but not theirs. I am Christian but that is the comments I get from people...lol. I like to always ask someone their side of the story before I make a judgment call.
• United States
25 Jul 10
I forgot to mention that this lawyer also taught that in the absence of facts or evidence, one of the things we should do is get the other side of the story because there are always at least two sides to every story. I remember talking to a friend, who was on the verge of divorce, about one conflict that occurred between him and his wife, and got one version of the story. I talked to his wife who is also a friend and got a completely different version of the story. I thought at first that one of them was lying. After further investigation, I discovered both of them were telling the truth. What happened was that each of them omitted portions of the same event, or incident, which they didn't consider important. But once I got the whole picture by getting all the details, both their stories made sense. So you're absolutely right about needing to get both sides of the story. But as I mentioned earlier, we may need to go beyond just getting both sides, and dig further to get at the truth.
@picjim (3003)
• India
25 Jul 10
M0st people base their decisions based on assumptions.I think its a fine example he i setting.Educating people to distinguish between fact and assumption is not easy.People who aren't trained are mostly lead away bu assumptions.A decision based on factual evidence presented should only be acceptable to a court of law.I think its a fine decision on his part to spread awareness so many future jurors will be able to make a more informed decision.
@Suke002 (311)
• United States
24 Jul 10
I think it all depends on the person your dealing with and the situation. Not everything can be decided off of pain facts, there has to be a balance. And as for jury's decisions, a lot of bad people got away with terrible crimes because people make their decisions on straight facts or a lack of "facts". So I weigh both facts and assumptions I have based on that person's personality.