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Observe more; Judge less – Part 1

“Facts have to be discovered by observation, not by reasoning.”

                -Bertrand Russell (British Philosopher and Nobel Laureate)

His eyes were red and his forehead and cheeks wet with perspiration. He looked around, his face twitching, and then with a grin hurriedly sat on the aisle seat. A few seconds later, he abruptly rose, paced up and down the passage of the plane, murmuring something to himself. The lady who sat next to him was reading a book but occasionally she would look at him, her lips curled into an expressionless countenance as she continued reading the book.

“He’s definitely angry with his wife” I thought and instantly checked my judgement. ‘No judgements please,’ I told myself, ‘my dear mind, please don’t judge, just observe’.

How could I say with certainty that he was angry? And how do I know she was his wife? I had surely observed rightly, but my conclusions were a speculation at best.

An honest scientist

Judgements, even without our cognizance, often follow our observations. Scientists make a hypothesis, conduct an experiment, observe and then draw conclusions. We too form a hypothesis, based on our past experiences stored in the sub consciousness, of the people we know: ‘Oh these guys are miserly’ or ‘This religion only spreads hate.’ Then when we see things, people, behaviours and events that confirm our beliefs, we draw strong judgements. Life goes on with more theories, observations and judgements; we are averse to the truth because we are convinced we are right. As someone once said, “my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”

If you say Ronaldo is a great footballer, that’s judgement, albeit a good one. But here again, my ‘good’ declaration is also a judgement. Alternatively if you said Ronaldo scored three goals in a match with a bicycle kick, you have observed. To say someone is a characterless man is a ruling, but you could as well say he has sent four e-mails in a single day disowning his family.To be continued…

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