Assumptions and Fallacies
Assumptions are our natural tendency to expect that things will be a certain way because they have in the past, or because society has taught us that it is so (Ruggiero, 2012). Assumptions can apply to almost anything, and in recent years has been mentioned mostly in relation to ethnic or racial stereotypes. For example, police may pay special attention to African-American or Latinos because they are under the assumption that these groups commit more crimes. Racial stereotyping is a very visible example of assumptions. Assumptions can also be seen in religious groups. If an individual has been raised to believe that their religion is correct and all others are wrong, they naturally carry that assumption with them as a truth, even if they have not critically investigated their assumption.
Assumptions interfere with critical thinking because they hinder our ability to consider facts that go against our assumptions.
This narrows our focus on what could be correct, because we omit ideas that go against our assumptions, or make judgments based on assumptions that may not be entirely correct, or correct at all. Assumptions can also hinder critical thinking because we are often not even aware of some of the assumptions that we have. Unless we take special care to examine our assumptions, we risk making critical errors in our thinking and judgment, especially if our assumption proves to be false. Assumptions also cause us to take for granted that what we assume is indeed correct. Strong or long held assumptions may never be verified through the critical thinking process, and could cause an entire lifetime of choices to be made on incorrect assumptions.
To avoid making assumptions in thinking we need to critically examine all of the beliefs and preconceived notions that we hold. This may...