Most people are likely aware of the apocryphal statement, “My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts.” Acknowledge it or not, the sentiment thus expressed is an ever-present danger for anyone.
In Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles, the author describes the local mindset at the beginning of a sensational trial: “The facts at issue may be as clear as glass to neutral observers, but the principals will see only the reflections of their own fears, hear only echoes of their own prejudice, act only out of anger and wounded pride.”
Everyone has presuppositions . . . things taken for granted or assumed to be true. Sometimes the veracity of such is rock-solid; sometimes they are the antithesis to actual facts. For instance, in days past people absolutely presupposed that the earth was flat. While that was, of course, far from true, said presupposition guided thinking in a way that greatly limited possible courses of action. Another example: historically, women have been seen as weaker, less intelligent human beings incapable of doing anything but rearing children and housework. That presupposition kept women in bondage for eons . . . and still does in parts of the world.
In some instances, one’s presuppositions not aligning with facts causes ripples of little consequence. In other cases, it can be critical . . . even a matter of life and death. The NAACP research reveals that from 1882-1968, 3,446 lynchings of black people occurred in the United States. This figure reflects the presupposed notion among the majority of the hangmen that people of African descent were disposable, lesser human beings that exist only to serve Caucasians. Dead wrong.
Anyone (including yours truly) can think wrongly. Checking and double-checking our presuppositions is part of being a responsible human being.