Can they jump backward?
That’s one of the questions that occurred to me while I continue to hold fire (so to speak) on the Ft. Hood mess… and, of course, continue to fine tune the architecture of the Hummus Summit. It’s all part of my effort to cultivate a little more patience than comes naturally to me and –following the lead of some of our most leaderly leaders— to not “jump to conclusions.”
Jumping, that’s where the kangaroos come in.
One of the things that I was actually able to observe during my conclusion-jumping abstinence–and I’m sure I’m not the first to notice the phenomenon– was the severe structural imbalance built into our thinking by that very cliché. We’re always warned about jumping to conclusions. But nobody ever warns you about jumping away from conclusions. And aren’t we seeing quite a bit of exactly that? Jumping away from even the most obvious of conclusions. I don’t think I even need to provide examples, do I?
It’s as if some folks, in fact some of our best and brightest, are on this relentless treadmill. And very often –though, admittedly, not in every case– it’s powered by information that’s virtually irrefutable and logic that’s diamond-hard. Not to mention the experience of centuries. And yet, as they’re conveyed onward and especially as they reach the inevitable destination, they dip into this astonishing repertoire of backward intellectual leaps and retrograde psychological bounds. It’s creative and amazing and the whole performance receives very high scores from all the judges (8.8, 9.2, 9.0 and, from the Washington Post, a perfect 10!).
Now, to some extent or another, all of us are governed in our thinking by cliché. It’s unavoidable really. And that’s why, regarding the case of the ubiquitous jumping to conclusions, I think we need a countervailing cliché. Obviously, the inverse idea exists –of following a series of steps to its logical conclusion and of not permitting casuistry to subvert common sense. I just don’t think there’s a cliché of sufficient weight to balance the pejorative power of jumping to conclusions.
There is, I realize, the all-purpose pull your head out of your… well, you know. But –aside from the barriers it faces in polite company, family newspapers, and Presidential press conferences– that expression doesn’t address the problem I’m talking about… at least with enough specificity to satisfy me.
Maybe there’s something out there, and I’m just too dumb to think of it, huh?