“The only source of knowledge is experience “
– Albert Einstein
Let’s talk about a very popular habit that people usually acquire easily and at a young age. It’s all around us and we hardly notice, but it comes back to bite us in ways we wouldn’t expect. It’s guessing. Guessing you say? Well, let me explain by using a simple analogy. It’s called the bike shed effect. To put it simply, if you ask someone how to build a nuclear reactor, they’ll tell you they don’t know anything about it. If you ask them how to build a bike shed, suddenly everyone is an expert. Since it sounds simple enough, they just guess they know how to build one, even if they have no experience with it and never tried. The hardest thing for someone to say is “I don’t know”. What ends up happening is a lot of inaccurate information and false projections.
The same reason people avoid saying “I don’t know” is the reason they get upset when you don’t believe them or tell them they’re wrong. Ego becomes involved and some people begin to believe what they say, even if there is solid evidence saying otherwise. Sometimes it even ends up becoming a moral issue, where the belief becomes as strong as a religious belief. Occasionally we have to be humble and say “I don’t know”. Hearing things and believing them without checking evidence or trying them out for ourselves, is just as bad as guessing. It’s best to say something like “I heard _____ but I don’t know for sure, I recommend you look it up or ask an expert.” Guessing isn’t always bad; it basically means you’re making a hypothesis, an “educated” guess, but what scientist do when they make an educated guess? That’s right. They do experiments and a lot of research to come to a conclusion. We should think like scientists when it comes to information.
Let’s face it, there are a bunch of times where we are watching TV or reading a story in the news and said to ourselves “I would have done this or I would have done that!” This brings me to my next point about guessing, something I had to learn the hard way. One thing people tend to neglect is the effects of emotions. I myself have been guilty of this very recently and had to learn the hard way to never guess again. You can tell yourself “I would have helped” or “how can he let her walk all over him?” or even “what would make him do something that stupid, I would never.” You have to stop and tell yourself something I should have told myself before it was too late. We can’t predict our emotional state. It’s best to say “I don’t know what I would have done, the best I can do is guess”. See, the thing is we may think we know we would act a certain way or do a certain thing, but we can only speculate. The only way to prepare yourself for a situation is to be in it, it’s that simple. Experience is the only way to comprehend an action or a scenario you have never been in before, no matter how simple it appears.
Logic and Emotions….Apples and Oranges?
I am always an optimistic, proactive guy and up until recently, I believed that we have total control of our emotions. I thought if we are strong enough mentally, we can change our emotions no matter what the situation is. I was wrong. I ended up so confused and so disoriented that I began to question myself and reorient everything I once came to know. What I concluded through my experience was that being proactive didn’t mean controlling our emotions. We cannot control our emotions. Emotional responses are quick, random, and come at the most unexpected times, making us do or say things outside of logic just for relief, gratitude, or satisfaction. They are uncontrollable, but preventable. Preventable only if we’ve experienced them because how can you know a cure before being diagnosed? The best you can do is delay the inevitable. Now what we can control is our response to our emotions.
To put this simple, most people make logical conclusions based on comparison, which can lead to guessing. The problem with comparing experiences is that most of the time, a certain experience is very specific and completely hypothetical outside of its original context. For example, it’s impossible to discuss the difference of logic and emotion because we use them synergistically, therefore we do not know the effects of them separately. Making guesses is okay, unless we start making a realistic bases around them and believing them. That’s exactly how myth’s are born. You’d be surprised at how many popular myths are out there. Do your research and stop guessing!!