Let’s not jump to conclusions

5 September 2021 | Advocacy

"I think we owe it to ourselves and others to be diligent with testing our hypothesis," writes autistic author Benjine Gerber.


Photo by Klemen Vrankar on Unsplash (edited)

Humans can feel an urge and even social pressure to be quick to come to a conclusion, or judge, or to take a short-cut and run as far as they can with an assumption that hasn’t been proved.

I don’t know where this phenomenon came from, but it is very destructive and can lead to grave mistakes and even trauma. It can even lead to circumstances that seem to prove a wrong assumption, which then prolongs the suffering of innocent bystanders.

In many fields people do the opposite though, in Eastern philosophy, there is a striving to train oneself to suspend judgement, also in the theory of compassion, also in many religions and also in science. Being authentic and also using common sense would also have us suspend judgement. Our brains are wired to detect not only real patterns, but also imaginary ones, or inconclusive ones.

It reminds me of the Nobel Prizewinning scientist, who in the middle of the night, did her world famous test that led to the discovery of a much needed cure. She felt super excited, but what she did next was to do yet another test and then another, to verify what she has found. That test has since been done hundreds of thousands of times and the science of it has been very thoroughly proven.

When studying the human body, there are patterns, but there are also so many exceptions to the patterns, too many to ignore, always enough of them to keep learning. I think we owe it to ourselves and others to be diligent with testing our hypothesis, to not jump to conclusions, and especially not use vagueness and confusion to bring forth judgments that are really designed for the purpose of hurting others. Life is not a competition. When we feel insecure, we need to deal with the emotions that are lit up inside of our own nervous systems and heal these wounds we are walking around with, because if we don’t, we may detect imaginary patterns that will make us lash out at others and they will surely know that they are innocent, but they will nevertheless be hurt by it.

No-one wants to be lashed out at. All the unhealed emotional wounds of masses of people seem to have led to a social culture of running with assumptions. This takes away from the things that humans need to focus on — namely, to keep this planet in a habitable state, which is a massive challenge that can only be solved if we all stand together and don’t push each other around, wasting the precious little time we have for remaining a cool-enough planet to live on.

Benjine Gerber is an autistic author and graphic artist from South Africa. Her personal study of the science of sensory overstimulation and inflammation has helped many autistic people learn how to optimise their bodies, and has led several doctors to change the way they deal with autistic patients. Benjine is currently developing a communication system for autistic children who have limited speech.