You Don't Know Me Like That

Accusations of Assumed Knowledge

Some of the most dangerous kind of accusations are those that assume you can read a person's mind and know their internal motivations.

They generally fall into the pattern of "you are doing X to stir up trouble, to make me look bad, to kiss-up, etc.".

Since internal motives are often nearly impossible to prove or disprove with anything approaching certainty, such accusations should be avoided in a civilized debate in my opinion.

Instead, try to focus on what it is about the language used or content that you find disturbing and try to correct it without relying on mind reading assumptions or accusing the other party of conspiracies. In other words, focus on the other person's output, not their processing. It's "your content has flaw X", rather than "you have flaw X".

Of course it's a good thing to "read" people in some aspects as it allows us to infer sarcasm, humor or anger, It is a matter of security of self and it is human nature to try to determine the motivations of others, as it helps us predict their behaviors and to interpret proper responses.

However in most cases it is best to keep your conclusions to yourself. It is not productive to accuse somebody of evil motives, even if it is the case... Evil doers often don't even realize they are doing evil, so it does no good anyhow even if you did find an evil motive.

Further, if you accuse others of evil motives, they will often go into "frankness mode" and tell you what they really think of you and your motives, leading to a FlameWar. Sometimes it's best not to know what each other really thinks of each other.

DaleCarnegie has pointed out that you cannot change people by accusing them of sinister motives.

The many motives of unknown minds:

  • The Zen Slap, In whatever form, shakes together pre-existing knowledge in the recipient's head, so they see what they (in principle) already know but didn't see. The right slap can bring two thoughts together that had been sitting next to each other, but unconnected, for a long time... or a set of thoughts needing only one more to make a complete set. At the wrong time, a slap (finding only the one thought) only hurts. The art of the master is to recognize when the thoughts are there. A ZenSlap is to stop conceptual thinking altogether.                                                                      


  • A Whack To the head, Oh Foolish Student... Follow my logic or face the power of my extended palm. A blow given to the thought center of a creature or thinking device. It is believed that such a hit will cause the recipient to realize their logical conclusion or statement is wrong, and to use the one presented by the hitter. Since this action is to drive the recipient to a prestated result, it is the opposite of a ZenSlap. Sometimes, the blow will be given to the most accessible area of the recipient... like the posterior, or a computer's monitor.

  • Empty your Cup, sometimes we must let go of the thing we "know". A teacher was trying to explain something to a student. Now this student was not a brand new student, but a senior student who had learned many things. He had knowledge and experience aplenty to draw upon. But each time the teacher tried to explain something new to the student, the student kept trying to hold it up against his own notions of the way the world is and how it ought be, and he was unable to see the lessons in what the master was trying to teach him. Finally, the teacher poured a full serving of tea into his own cup, and into the cup of the student. Then he told the student he wanted to give to him some of the tea from his own cup. He began pouring tea from his cup into the student's cup, but the student's cup was already full, and all the tea from the teacher's cup spilled out over the cup onto the surface below.The student said, "You can't pour anything into my cup until I empty it to make room for what you are trying to give me.", and the teacher replied "Yes I know." "And I can't give you any new thoughts or ideas or perspectives on life's lessons until you clear out some thoughts that are already teeming in your mind to make room for what I have to teach you.

  • Lies for Truth, simplication for the pursuit of Truth, lies in this case are metaphors, abstractions and generalizations to be truly useful though one must remember that they are dealing with a lie.

The point is some consider what they have to say to be that of an expert, and therefore unquestionable. Others may throw out ideas as a farmer does seeds with the intent of idea growing into a mature, complete form. Still others may be seeking recognition and attention. There are some who just want to be helpful and nurturing. Others may not have a clue and need help. Some are conditioned parrots, who merely repeat what they hear, having neither processed nor understood it. If one is interested only in content, and not in the content initiator or provider, something valuable might be missed but, claiming somebody has evil motivations can be a way to dismiss them because they are doing something that irritates you.  We need to remember our interpretations should only be used to contextually understand the content not to create ad hominem attacks or divert threads into arguments of "how" someone should express themselves or assume we know "why" they did it... contextualize the content not the people!

This story was inspired by EP member CoCoChai,  her specific contributions that inspired me are found here


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Vivagalore Vivagalore
31-35, F
5 Responses Sep 15, 2012

Wow, VERY good, and WELL thought out.

The Zen Slap--->your discussion with me concerning The Awakening.

no i was just talking about the need for a strong breast stroke

But I am evil.

Was I supposed to read all of this? Or can I just leave random comments about nappies and pee?

Or, maybe we can talk about beer and hot dogs.

Or weed.

Baldkate has lost her mind <------accusation that can be proven by her statement below