Great Ideas and Assumed Understanding

There has been a fair bit in the press about the Rwanda anti-immigration “strategy” and the send back the boats to France mind-set has purchase in the English mentality. The immigration mentioned here hardly scratches the surface compared to that of the Rio Grande. It is odd that many of those who are anti-immigration are first or second generation immigrants themselves. When people tout Rwanda as a safe destination, they do not include images of the Rwandan genocide.


There is an assumed understanding that “stable” Rwanda will not regress at least when pitching the “great idea” to the public. Again, Northeast Africa is in throes of conflict.

It is my thesis that people turned on by a so-called “great idea” often do not bother to think things through at any depth.

During the wife’s illness the level of on the ground support I have had is zero. I have also found myself supporting some of her friends and her family. Yet the French medical system has not once asked me if I can cope nor what level of support I might have. I can speculate that there is an assumption of proximal and helpful family. {It seems to me family is bigger and the ties are closer here.}

They do not get that we live alone and without either ‘phone or personal contact.

Nobody has checked that I understand what is being said to me. Not once has anyone asked if I understand. There was no social care visit to check that our home was suitable to receive a very severely ill patient and that I could cook beyond beans on toast.

I have had people talk at me in French. If they talk too fast, I can just glaze over, switching off any attempt to understand. This could be a tad dangerous. My face can be deadpan. But I can research on the internet and I have a science background. I am pretty self-reliant and only in utter emergency am I likely to ask for help. There was an assumption that I would telephone the nurses for information when the wife was very ill. This assumption was wrong.

It seems there is an embarrassment about initiating conversation with someone who might not speak French well which is almost pathological in some people.

It is kind of bizarre on one level. In the hospital I am assumed to understand complex technical information and in public because of my “poor” French I am assumed to be a stupid Inglish.

There is a level of assumed understanding which is underestimated in the latter case. I can probably read and understand more complex texts in French than your average Jean-Jacques or Marie-Claire. Do they read Camus?

I am not having a go. People do different things in different countries and the approach varies. In Britain they are shit-scared of litigation. In France personal responsibility is more important and despite the size of “state” it is less of a nanny.

What is common across all cultures is “assumed understanding”. People are too scared to check if they have understood, by asking.  It is bit of folly. Nobody wants to look an imbecile by checking if they have gotten the right end of the stick or not.

It is my other thesis that assumed understanding, including my own, is often wrong and almost inevitably incomplete. People assume understanding far more often than is wise.

Assumed Understanding

In our times it is possible to find “instant experts” keen to profess their assumed knowledge and understanding from the nearest soap box whether made from wood or electronic. You can buy little sachets of “Instant Expert” which you can mix with water, add a little Ego and a dash of encephalitis pop them in the microwave and “hey presto” you become an instant expert on whichever subject you choose irrespective of whether or not you have researched said subject. The “Instant Expert” sachets are the latest wisdom hack. It is the new shortcut to omniscience.

There are those who may actually be an expert in one area who might assume that said expertise is transferrable to others.

I have been very fortunate in this lifetime in that a very large number of people have told me stuff, presumably to educate me, they have offered me their expert opinion and told me what I am. Many, to my eyes, have deemed that they “know-it-all” and in their largesse have been keen to share.  

If somebody desperately wants to be right, to “win” an argument, I am generally minded to let them. If they are so certain, so adamant, it would be mean of me to piss on their campfire. If their opinion is so concrete and set, why would I waste any energy trying to alter it?

I will make a postulate.

The phenomenon of assumed understanding is widespread and in many cases that assumption is invalid. People understand much less than they might imagine. This does not stop them from opining in an adamant and assertive manner.

Or a more concise version.

People are often loquaciously full of bullshit.

One of the things one learns in higher education is that smart people, when they tip up, assume that they know more than they do. One can spend three years {or more} altering this knowledge self-diagnosis.

What do you reckon?

Is assumed understanding prevalent?