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?

How Well Do You Know Anyone?

People tend to make a host of assumptions about others and imagine that they know them. In an academic environment few consider the outside interests of others and if they do, they might imagine them benign, maybe hiking, gardening, arts or whatever.

Unless you belong to the “front row” club you have no idea as to the mentality of the sort of person who plays front row rugby. It does not compute unless you have experienced it. It can entail having semi-drunken light-hearted head butt competitions in a Paris café post-match, for example. It is not genteel though many front rowers are indeed gentle men away from the pitch. They tend not to be gob shites. They put up with a lot. They have broad shoulders.

I’ll wager that those who used to see me in a pastoral care role would not imagine me packing down, nor choking someone out during judo ground work. I got very close to causing unconsciousness on a number of occasions. Limpet like choke holds were a favourite of mine. People usually tapped before starting to go beyond. There is a latent capacity for controlled violence in me. People have walked closer than they think to its release.

“Are you having trouble concentrating? Have lost your appetite? Has your libido changed? Are you drinking more or less than usual? Have you had any self-harming thoughts?”

Is a bit of a contrast to full contact sparring, with take downs, locks and immobilisations. Until you have tried full contact martial arts you have no idea how you are going to respond to a donkey kick to the stomach or a punch to the head.

As I have said before I once met a geezer at an entrepreneurship event who said that he knew me well. He did not know who he was talking to. He had no idea that I was looking at the bridge of his nose as he was speaking, quite close to me, thinking that it would be very easy to head butt him and break his nose. That would cause quite a stir. He was oblivious, caught up in his bullshit.

Here people make some assumptions based on their general experience of British people. They are not so valid for us. When one says that they don’t have to try using English, one can see a brief wave of relief, I guess.

The thing is people make so many assumptions which are in many cases way off the mark.


How well do you know anyone?

Are your perceptions and assumptions in any way accurate?

Who Do You Really Know?

There is a tendency for people to think they know others and then to express an all seeing opinion upon them. It is a part of the heinous sin, gossip. This practice of gossiping about people, who are the movers and shakers, who is on the up, who is knobbing who, who is on the down, who got a big grant, who published in nature was part and parcel of academic life. There are newspapers and magazines nearly entirely dedicated to gossip. It is fair to say that gossip and the salacious desire for the next juicy morsel is very common in our times. People, now get this, gossip about what is happening in TV soap operas!! They are knowingly gossiping about what is happening in made up stuff.

I have on occasion met people at events who claim to have met me and know me. One of these was at an IOP sponsored entrepreneurship event. They did not know that they were talking to me. So clearly their claims were not entirely accurate. It is very bizarre to stand there and have some arsehole tell you about yourself. It is tempting to offer them a shovel so that they might dig for themselves a deeper hole.

If for example you met me say two decades ago and we interacted briefly you might have a very different version of me in your mind, different from what I actually am like now. I am deeply introverted so in all likelihood I would not have spoken very much about what is/was important to me. If you met me three decades ago, you might have had the impression that I was more of a party animal, but I was already starting to introvert more. There are things about me that most people have no idea of.

For example, when I was doing my Ph.D. I was accepted as a trainee officer cadet in the Royal Marine Commando Reserves. I passed quickly through the initial selection because my paternal family had a long association with the military across several generations.

On numerous occasions people gave assumed that I am ex-military. I had a long chat with my hairdresser in Farnham who was ex-Pathfinder and sniper. His eyesight had started to go. I talked about Brecon, having hiked there and he assumed that I had done some training there. The dope dealers outside KFC in Brixton used to joke I was a soldier. They asked me if I was a police officer and I said no.

I think it fair to say that most people make shed loads of assumptions about others and seldom check either the provenance of any received opinion or the accuracy of their assumptions.

Most people interact façade to façade and therefore all anybody gets sight of is some made up projection that people want others to see. Sometimes that façade slips and then one gets a brief sight of that which people seek to hide from others.

In Breaking Bad, the narcotics cop does not suspect Heisenberg, his brother in law, for a very long time.


Who do you think you really know?

Are you accurate in your estimation?

Or are there many assumptions?