Our Perceptions of Others

We often form perceptions of other people from how they are presented to us. Or by the descriptions and hearsay of others. Those perceptions can be idealised or demonised. There is a familiarity about some of the perceptions we hold, a warm familiarity which we cherish and cling to.


Charlie Stayt is roughly the same age as me and went to the same school. It is possible that I met him nearly fifty years ago.

In nearly every case the perceptions that we have of others are incomplete. We may only see one facet and yet we extrapolate and generalise from that facet. From time to time our perceptions can be called into question. We can be shocked that our perceptions were not as all encompassing as we once thought. Our tendency to conclude prematurely is a weakness which we often forget about. Yet we do it over and over.

Things You Do Not Know

People have a tendency to conclude a whole lot from not very much. Their speculations can be mistaken for reality, their extrapolations unquestioned. I have joked about the phenomenon of self-diagnosed omniscience in this blog and I have introduced the concluding kangaroo, a being that jumps a great distance over chasms to form conclusions.

People also like to pontificate; evidence is rarely a major concern.

I first became aware of some oddities in my character, the summer of my 13th birthday. We went to Butlins at Pwllheli and I spent a lot of time walking along the Llyn peninsula. I did not want to be there with my parents. I was able to persuade various bartenders that the beers I was buying were for family.

The average man of the street has never heard of three or four pronged nagal beings. I was very much with the question as to who or what I was / am that summer. I even had a jacket like this at one stage.

While I was decorating this afternoon, it seemed to me that people may conclude about what I am up to and engaged in, based on the contents of this blog. They may be certain that they understand what is going on. They may forget that I choose what to put in the blog and what not to.

A long while back an American university was visiting the one that I worked at, with a view perhaps to forming an alliance. The delegation was “senior” and to help fill their diaries, I was delegated by the powers that be to talk about pastoral care, student support, transferable skills training, the tutorial system, science outreach and academic quality control. The delegation arrived at my office and we had an extended discussion which covered a lot of ground. They were a bunch of suits but very engaged in what I was saying. They started asking me if I had been to the USA before and made an informal invitation to come visit. Somewhat surprisingly they took my contact details and arranged a follow up meeting for the following day.

The next day two of them came to my office they had called the “mother-ship” and proceeded to offer me a job. They would pay for me to come visit for a fortnight to scope out. Then we could put together a plan for a new form of student liaison and care office campus wide. They suggested that I could have a big salary and choose my team.

While the negotiation about alliance was taking place, I was being head hunted spontaneously.

Nobody knew that this was going on, the seaside sounded attractive…

It was out of the blue…

People tend to conclude from within their own version of reality. As a consequence they do not include things which they do not know into their conclusion. They are unaware of the things which they do not know. This rarely inhibits conclusion forming.

Self-diagnosed omniscience if inaccurately or prematurely diagnosed is unaware of the things it does not know. It deems that there cannot possibly be any things which it does not know.


The Concluding Kangaroo

One from the vaults…

Are you a concluding kangaroo?

I ask this slightly tongue in cheek question because many people jump to conclusions and then hop off to another conclusion a few seconds later. For whatever reason human beings like to conclude. We are taught at school that every essay, every presentation, needs some kind of conclusion. It could be a sound bite; some summary bullet points or a “take home” message. There simply must be some conclusion or concluding statement. People jump to conclusions about other people. And here is the really strange thing, rarely if ever do they check their conclusions with the person they are concluding about. If you have ever jumped to a conclusion about someone without checking, then you are indeed a concluding kangaroo. You keep your conclusions warm in the darkness of your pouch and never test them in the full light of day.

Conclusion is of course a close relative of opinion.

From a personal level on numerous occasions people have asserted to me that they know what I am thinking and that they understand my motives. This is funny because they never check with me by asking, they just tell me. They have concluded and that is it. If people genuinely knew what I am thinking they would understand not-thinking, because not-thinking at all is the state of mind in which I generally am. I’ll wager that they don’t know not-thinking at all. This morning I am thinking whilst I write this little piece, after that I will be back to not-thinking until I discuss what we want to do with the day.

Conclusions are the basis of concrete mind. I could say concrete closed mind. I prefer the notions of best guess and working hypotheses because these are much less rigid and allow for some uncertainty. They do not need a defence of conclusion, no ramparts, no boiling oil and no adamant assertions. Simply they say, this is what I am making of the current situation for now, today. It is probably going to change as I get more information.

So, are you a concluding kangaroo?