The unintended pun in everyday life.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The False Presumption

I have a couple of good Unintended Puns to blog about--one involves "missionary positions" on a job posting web page and the other "handshakes" being "grasped" by someone from a culture where hugs are the common form of greeting--so they're both good candidates to discuss. But along with puns, another of my hobbies is to figure out human nature. This is perhaps a somewhat arrogant endeavor, I know, but one has to do something while one navigates the NASCAR race tracks around here, seeing human nature in its rawest, most anonymous form. That is, watching drivers, anonymous behind their tinted windows, race from one traffic light to the next, jockey to save fractions of a second while risking their own and others' lives on the freeways, driving recklessly while texting or otherwise distracted.

And because I recently came to a deeper understanding of human nature, I wanted to blog about it right away; happily for this blog's sake, it involved a play on words as I thought about how to describe it. First, a few definitions to get us started:

MacMillan Online Dictionary definitions:
  1. presume upon: to expect more than you should get or have a right to, especially in your relationships with other people.
  2. presumption: an act or instance of taking something to be true or adopting a particular attitude toward something, esp. at the start of a chain of argument or action; also: Acceptance or belief based on reasonable evidence; assumption or supposition
  3. assume: to believe that something is true, even though no one has told you or even though you have no proof
  4. assumption: something that you consider likely to be true even though no one has told you directly or even though you have no proof

Drivers, and therefore perhaps people in general if drivers represent people hiding behind tinted windows, go around presuming upon other people. They "assume" that everybody else will behave as non-variables in their equation of life (thanks to my son for helping me with that wording). As they zip in out of lanes, they assume everybody else will continue exactly as they are going. This, of course, is ridiculous and actually impossible. It amounts to saying A is not A. Thus, it is a False Presumption. How can each person on the planet, or in a driver to driver exchange, be a non-variable to every other person? We can't, because we are all agents, agents of action, so therefore we bother each other, sometimes to the point of traffic accidents, sometimes to the point of arguments, etc.

False Presumption is the somewhat Unintended Pun/play on words that I named my insight. The term False Assumption is well known, and I think my brain hit upon that when I was looking for a name; but since I had already been thinking about "presumption", the term came out False Presumption, which is much better anyway.

To conclude: People presume upon others, what they wouldn't let others presume upon them. That is, they expect the others to let them drive like fools and not care. Thus, to generalize, I believe we can dub this The Era of Presumption. When we are not driving, we pretend we are not presumptuous by putting on a veneer of civility, which is a good thing--but that doesn't change human nature. At the bottom, we all want to be the ruler of all we can see (we all presume upon others), me included, and presuming upon others is just the beginning.