Don’t assume, or you’ll make an a– out of you and me. There it is – the famous phrase about assumption. As students, the concept of assumption is more important than it is given credit for.
College is a time for exploring new ideas and reading new material, but many students find themselves developing their own ideas about life and truth based on biased pieces. It is scary to think that university students can mistake fiction for fact.
A most recent example of a work that presents assumptions as facts is the documentary “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” which aired on the Discovery Channel last month. The documentary proposed that the lost tomb of Jesus Christ and his family was found near Jerusalem and that the ossuaries, or archaic caskets, within were inscribed with the names of the family.
After a few methods of research, Simcha Jacobovici, the filmmaker and journalist running the show, strongly argued that not only that had he found the burial site of Jesus Christ – inferring that Jesus never ascended to heaven – but also that Mary Magdalene was buried in the tomb as Jesus’ wife.
Jacobovici’s “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” is not aggravating because it could shatter the religious foundation of Christ’s resurrection if it were viable, but because its implications were loaded guesses. The documentary portrayed itself as a novel piece about an archeological find, but it was marked by factual misconceptions.
For instance, in the film, researchers
extract DNA samples from the arguable tombs of Jesus and Mary Magdalene and tested them for maternal connections. When the DNA test indicated that the two were not siblings or immediate relatives, Jacobovici jumps to the conclusion that the two were married.
Even if the argument is presented that only those married or related were placed in the same tomb, there are holes in the research. None of the other DNA samples from the tomb were taken and compared with those that were allegedly Jesus’ or Mary’s. Who is to say that ‘Mary’ was not married to a different male in the tomb, or vice versa?
This use of speculation is not unique to contemporary arguments either.
It is everywhere.
Even while reading the great thinkers, students need to be aware of bias and assumption.
Sure, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
had a point in “The Communist Manifesto” when they said the bourgeoisie exploited the proletariat. The working conditions of the industrial revolution were terrible. But there is no ultimate proof that every single person working in industrial Europe was unable to save any money for his or her family.
In order to buy Marx and Engels’ idea that capitalism is a definitive evil, the student has to make the assumption
that nothing can develop out of capitalism for the lower classes.
Before accepting any ideology or concept, realizing the assumptions made by those that created the thought process is imperative.
Facts and their interpretation are somewhat of a dynamic factor in how humans understand the world. The smallest bias in the construction of a fact can result in a biased formation of knowledge.
The point is that students need to be wary of assumptions in the work they read while in college and throughout their life. Questioning the validity of what is provided in a work allows a student to further understand the context of its ideas. A student should think about an idea before he or she jumps on its bandwagon.
Beware of the context of a work’s construction or, the next thing you know, you’ll be thinking “The Da Vinci Code” is the Bible. And no matter how much you liked the former, it can never be the latter.
Erin Bernard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.