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Jump To Conclusions is noted in the free dictionary's entry for jump a few different ways:

  1. To form an opinion or judgment hastily: jump to conclusions.

  1. to proceed abruptly, ignoring intervening steps or deliberation: to jump to a conclusion.

jump - pass abruptly from one state or topic to another; "leap into fame"; "jump to a conclusion"; "jump from one thing to another"


jump to conclusions / jump to the conclusion that to form an idea without making sure of the facts. He saw my case in the hall and jumped to the conclusion that I was leaving. llegar a conclusiones precipitadas

I have only ever used and heard this expression used to refer to negative things, but according to the whole hasty and without evidence meaning it could surely be used for good things as well? Assuming you were wrong in the end...

Can one jump to good (unfounded and wrong) conclusions?

  • I don't quite understand your question. A conclusion is only good if it is correct. If the conclusion I draw turns out to be incorrect then that is a bad conclusion. – Jim Nov 27 '14 at 4:14
  • @Jim Jumping to conclusions about things or about people are usually assuming things are bad, right? I see you with a woman who is not your wife and jump to the conclusion that you are having an affair. One, could, though, in theory, jump to the conclusion that you are helping the needy - thus jumping to a good (or positive) conclusion. – Mou某 Nov 27 '14 at 4:18
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    I think you're correct in believing that jumping to conclusions carries a negative connotation, but I'm not sure this has to do with language, esp. English. In practice, people can jump to the correct conclusion hastily. Severely delusional schizophrenics suffer from "jumping to conclusions", but in some studies, doing so was sound (reasoning in a more Bayesian manner was not shown to be the most ecologically valid strategy). Note recent event: man takes phone pic of bear that killed him moments later. He jumped to a positive conclusion (bear is friendly). Outcome not so positive. – anongoodnurse Nov 27 '14 at 5:30
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it concerns value judgements about reasoning, not the English language. – anongoodnurse Nov 27 '14 at 5:35
  • That's part of the usage as much as anything else though, some idioms, phrases, etc. are marked as 'used in the negative'. My question, on usage, is simply can it be used to talk about positive things or not? – Mou某 Nov 27 '14 at 6:56
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The focus of the phrase "jumping to conclusions" is on the process—the jumping—not on the particular conclusions that the person doing the jumping happens to land on. Thus, it is by no means odd to hear the caution against jumping to conclusions presented in roughly this form:

You may be right about X, but let's not jump to conclusions.

If the person is right about X, then the conclusion can't be deemed "bad"—but that still doesn't make the process good. The distinction here is reminiscent of the one that Socrates (in Plato's Meno) tries to make between false opinion (mistaken views arrived at by bad reasoning) true opinion (correct views arrived at by dumb luck despite bad reasoning) and knowledge (correct views arrived at by good reasoning).

If you jump to conclusions, you necessarily rely on dumb luck to find your way to true opinion rather than to false opinion—but you forgo any chance to arrive at knowledge. This is the essence of the warning, "Don't jump to conclusions."

John Locke, "Of the Conduct of the Understanding" (published posthumously in 1706, but written at least two years earlier), puts the problem this way:

In every question the nature and manner of the proof, it is capable of, should be considered, to make our enquiry, such as it should be. This would save a great deal of frequently employed pains, and lead us sooner to that discovery and possession of truth, we are capable of. The multiplying variety of arguments, especially frivolous ones, such as are all, that are merely verbal, is not only lost labour, but cumbers the memory to no purpose, and serves only to hinder it from seizing and holding of the truth, in all those cases which are capable of demonstration. In such way of proof the truth and certainty is seen, and the mind fully possesses it self of it ; when, in the other way of assent, it only hovers about it, is amused with uncertainties. In this superficial way, indeed, the mind is capable of more variety of plausible talk, but is not enlarged, as it should be, in its knowledge. It is to this same haste and impatience of the mind also, that a not due tracing of the arguments to their true foundation, is owing ; men see a little, presume a great deal, and so jump to the conclusion. This is a short way to fancy and conceit, and (if firmly embraced) to opiniatrey, but is certainly the farthest way about to knowledge. For he that will know, must by the connexion of the proofs see the truth, and the ground it stands on ; and therefore, if he has, for haste, skipt over what he should have examined, he must begin, and go over all again, or else he will never come to knowledge.

Incidentally, according to Christine Ammer, The Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés, second edition (2006), the wording has been around for approximately 315 years:

jump to conclusions, to To draw inferences too hastily from insufficient evidence. Also put in the singular (to jump to a conclusion), this cliché dates from about 1700.

which would put Locke's use of it near the front of the line.

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In my observation, most people are much less critical of other people's opinions when they accord with their own views than they are of opinions that contradict their own views.

So in practice, the opposite of "You're jumping to [bad] conclusions" is "You are quite right"; whereas logically, the opposites should be "You're jumping to poor conclusions" on the one hand, and "You're jumping to correct conclusions" on the other.

However, to say "You're jumping to correct conclusions" would implicitly acknowledge that the basis for the other person's conclusion is weak (and possibly incorrect); so an individual who is seeking affirmation (or a defence) of their own point of view from someone else will not use this formulation when the other person agrees with them, because then the weakness in their interlocutor's argument would be too obvious, and therefore too much exposed to attack.

It will also sound too critical of a potential supporter whose opinion is in alignment with their own; there's no point in needlessly upsetting an ally by highlighting the shortcomings of their reasoning process.

  • Not correct conclusions but assuming someone is good rather than bad...perhaps my question is not that clear – Mou某 Nov 27 '14 at 5:20
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Statistically, you cannot jump to a good conclusion.

Jumping to a conclusion, means that you have not completed adequate coverage of your analysis to help you reach an acceptable conclusion.

For example, the space shuttle Challenger. Without proper coverage of investigation of a problem, they jumped to a conclusion. For six times they jumped to conclusion, no disaster occurred. But on the 7th jumping to conclusion, the shuttle blew up.

Does this mean they had jumped to good conclusions in the first six instances? No. In quality engineering, even the first 6 jumping to conclusion is called bad quality.

Statistically, for every non-failure in the presence of a critical problem, the chances of the next launch being a disaster grows larger, until the statistical pressure collapses resulting in an unexpected but statistically expected disaster.

Quality is a package deal.

  • If you sold every 1000 problem-free TVs, you would sell 1 disastrous TV, would that be a good 1000 conclusions with one bad conclusion? Or, is the product a bad package because the good conclusion you had planned required no more than one problematic TV for every 100K sold. 1 in 1K vs 1 in 100K is 100 times disaster.

  • Just because you made a few good calls, they would not be actually good calls if those calls were made based on inadequate information.

  • Therefore, since jumping to conclusion is equivalent to making decisions with inadequate information, not facing a disaster from a jump is still a bad conclusion. If you did such jumping to conclusion in a nuclear plant, you should be fired from your job.

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