Are All Assumptions Bad?

I received the following email from a reader:

“I was checking out the RED Model for Critical Thinking and was wondering about the first step- Recognizing Assumptions. Are all assumptions bad?”

Great question Maria! No, all assumptions are not bad. In times of emergency we often have to rely on our assumptions to act quickly. For example, when you see smoke coming from a building, you would assume the building is on fire. It may or may not actually be on fire, but you will likely call 911 just in case. That assumption could save lives.

We often need to rely on assumptions when no other information is available and assumptions can be made on past experiences.

The first step of the RED Model is to Recognize Assumptions, not ignore or deny the assumptions. Recognizing assumptions is key when trying to make a strong decision or solve a problem because assumptions are not always correct. We must evaluate which assumptions are correct and which ones are based on faulty information, emotional biases, or opinion. Once we recognize which assumptions are holding us back, we can move past them towards thinking critically.

Do you have a question about critical thinking? Our blogging team would be happy to answer your questions!

Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens. She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training. She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting. She is the

chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.

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