On Reasonable Assumptions

I bought a new pair of shoes last week. The right one was a good fit, or as near as good a fit as I will get with my size elevens. Would you like to try on the other one, the assistant asked? I declined. It was reasonable to assume that if the right one fitted, so would the left. On returning from the local library this morning - not a long walk - I was rewarded with a blister on my left heel.

It may be that the left shoe is smaller than the right, or that my left foot is bigger than my right - human beings arenít symmetrical. Whatever, it is living and painful proof that reasonable assumptions are precisely that, reasonable. A lot of reasonable assumptions, theories, beliefs, etc, are not only reasonable but dead wrong. Conversely, many ostensibly unreasonable or even outrageous assumptions, theories, beliefs, etc, are just the opposite. The problem is that there is no simple and safe method for determining which is which.

September 20, 2002


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