The Dangers of Speculation

The dangers of speculation by nelson lewisLet’s just say that a Presidential candidate you dislike is rumored to have done or said something unsavory.  And even if it’s not true, taken out of context or easily rebutted, people still believe it.  Regardless of your political affiliation, this is something that we all experienced throughout 2016.  And it serves as an example as to why speculation following events can be dangerous, irresponsible and counterproductive.  Whether something is true, false or implied, simply because it’s said people will believe it.  If you go on social media after any big event, it will be abuzz with all sorts of speculation.  I recently read an article about the dangers that said speculation holds, especially when speculating in the aftermath of airline crashes.

Everything is seen on social media.  Often times, the news will pick up a random story that will spread a message, not often true, that will mislead plenty of readers.  Let’s just say there’s a crash, and immediately afterwards somebody online speculates that it “might be due to the weather”.  Yeah, that’s always a possibility, but that’s just one possibility.  With that in readers’ minds, suddenly they’re terrified of flying.  On social media, it’s upsettingly easy for misinformation to spread, while accurate information about how safe aviation is gets drowned out.  

Another example of the dangers of speculation involves tiger sharks in Hawaii.  Sharks are pretty scary, and amazingly efficient predators, and tiger sharks are among the biggest and scariest of them all.  Along with the bull shark and great white, they’re known to attack humans, but it’s actually pretty rare.  In Hawaii, three to four shark bites happen a year, but compare that to the untold hundreds of thousands of times that humans swim, dive and surf in Hawaii every day.  Speculation about the danger they could pose to tourism in Hawaii, nearly 5,000 tiger sharks were culled.  While this damaged the shark population, it did nothing to decrease the number of interactions between humans and sharks.  

Ultimately, speculation is a basic human reaction to events, and I’d be lying if I told you I never speculated.  Speculation involves both reasoned and completely irrational ideas, which people use to form opinions.  But it’s important to keep it for the right audience, otherwise it could snowball in a game of telephone.