Handling Old Assumptions

The Importance of Gathering Facts from Multiple Sources


7/30/20234 min read

three person pointing the silver laptop computer
three person pointing the silver laptop computer

My mother-in-law recently received an invitation to go on a cruise with a relative, my wife's aunt. However, my wife has always been skeptical about her character, based on past experiences.

Her distrust towards her aunt arose from memories of broken promises and unreliability during her childhood, like when her mother helped take care of her child, and the promised monthly allowance was never delivered.

Naturally, when we were informed about the cruise invitation, we became concerned about potential mishaps. Several factors didn't add up, which fueled our suspicions further.

For instance, my mother-in-law wasn't informed about the actual cost initially. She was then informed it was about a few hundred dollars, then at a later time - $50-$60. Then altogether told her not to worry about the cost...

She was also told not to disclose the trip to anyone outside of her immediate family.

Moreover, the aunt claimed she couldn't go due to cataract surgery just a week before the trip, leaving us questioning her sudden change in plans. We all know that cataract surgery is not urgent nor life threatening. It is up to one to arrange a date favorable to them.

Additionally, the sleeping arrangements seemed peculiar. Initially, my mother-in-law was supposed to share a room with her aunt, but after the cancellation, she would share with the aunt's husband's brother's daughter and her husband, whom she had barely met before.

As we delved into these inconsistencies, we started concocting scenarios about her motives.

Our research revealed that the cheapest cruise tickets were around $1000 per head, making the aunt's offer of less around $50 quite perplexing. The timing of her cataract surgery also raised eyebrows, as it seemed convenient for her to back out at the last moment.

To add to our concerns, we realized she had not requested my mother-in-law's passport details, even though it had been updated just a month ago. We always ask for updated passport details when travelling with others, to avoid any complications at airports or cruise ports.

In our minds, we began to imagine various schemes she might be plotting, from making my mother-in-law foot the entire trip's bill to charging all expenses under her name. Our suspicions grew as we pondered these possibilities.

In nutshell, these are what causing our lopsided perspectives:

  • Broken Promises: Incidents where mother-in-law was helping take care of aunt's child, and in return, the aunt promised to provide a monthly allowance. However, the aunt often failed to fulfill this promise, causing disappointment and frustration.

  • Unreliable Behavior: Wife's aunt has displayed inconsistent and unreliable behavior in the past. This includes not following through with commitments, such as not giving the promised allowance or changing plans suddenly without prior notice. It happened also during my mother-in-law’s last trip to Genting with her.

  • Taking Advantage of Loved Ones: My wife perceives her aunt as someone who takes advantage of close family members for her benefit. This perception might be based on past instances where the aunt may have leaned on her relatives for support or resources but failed to reciprocate in a similar manner.

  • Imposing Ideas: My wife remembers her aunt as being superstitious and often imposing her beliefs and ideas on others. This might have caused discomfort and led to a sense of mistrust towards her aunt's intentions and decision-making.

  • Lack of Personal Interaction: I have never personally known the aunt and have only heard about her from my wife. This lack of direct interaction might contribute to a biased opinion based solely on second-hand information.

  • Secrecy: The need to keep the trip a secret brings forward all the wrong signals.

  • Inconsistencies in Trip Details: Biggest catalyst of all. The invitation for the cruise raised concerns due to multiple inconsistencies in the information provided. The varying cost of the trip, the sudden cancellation, and changes in sleeping arrangements raised suspicions about the aunt's motives.

However, a turning point came when we discussed the situation with my brother-in-law, who had a different perspective on their aunt.

He found her amicable and trustworthy. To our surprise, he had a conversation with her and discovered that the cost she mentioned initially was indeed around $150 for a room of 3 people (turns out they only need to pay port tax).

Apparently, some cruises, like Genting Dream Cruise, offered free or heavily discounted rooms to encourage passengers to return for future gambling opportunities.

Also the reason for secrecy is that the aunt was worried that others would question why she didn’t invite them instead. Also it turned out she had some outstanding debts with one of the older aunts.

This revelation challenged our assumptions, and I realized that we were heavily influenced by my wife's past perceptions of her aunt. I had never personally known her or interacted with her. My judgment was clouded by second-hand information and negative feelings.

Ultimately, my mother-in-law decided not to go on the trip initially due to discomfort about the sleeping arrangements. However, when the aunt later decided to go, she changed her mind and decided to join her.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of gathering facts from multiple sources. It is easy to be influenced by the opinions of those we trust and love, but it is equally crucial to seek out other perspectives to gain a comprehensive understanding of a situation.

As my mother-in-law sets off on her trip, I am reminded that sometimes we don't have all the information or that certain things might be beyond our awareness. It is vital to challenge our assumptions and seek diverse perspectives before making judgments.

Just because we believe something to be true doesn't mean it is accurate. Like Mark Hanson mentioned in his book, "Everything you know is wrong.", anything can change. Thus, we must verify our beliefs by consulting different sources, even if we think we trust our primary source implicitly.

In the end, this experience has encouraged me to be more open-minded and curious about seeking multiple viewpoints. It has taught me that trusting blindly can lead to misjudgments, and that gathering facts from various sources is the key to making well-informed decisions.

Whether it's about a family trip or any other aspect of life, being open to diverse perspectives will undoubtedly enrich our understanding and interactions with others.

With love,