It’s a common issue with scientific exploration to withhold judgement or truth claims until you can be sure you understand the nature of the thing you are studying.  So much of the wrangling in scientific communities is not about the data (although that’s a thing.  There’s a current scandal going on because a major study lauded in so many journals was actually a fake) but about what the data means.  Unfortunately people look at events, at data, at interactions and decide that this is a cause of that effect and then their minds can extrapolate meaning from there.  For example, if you heard it reported that someone was chewing gum while they were walking and they tripped on something and fell, you might assume that they can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.  Chewing gum + walking = accident.  However, if you heard the additional facts that a helicopter full of Navy Seals hovered over the gum chewer and fast roped down right next to them, that they were looking at the helicopter and the Navy Seals rather than where they were walking, and that a Navy Seal practically landed on top of them, then the cause and effect becomes very different although it doesn’t rule out the original equation.  More studying needs to be done for this particular case or perhaps a simpler study without Navy Seals.

This issue isn’t just scientific, however.  Would that it were but we do this all the time.  We experience two things and try to associate them with each other.  Through this association we try to make meaning.  We try to see causation in things such as when we try to figure out why someone didn’t show up to an event when they said they would, why we weren’t able to do something that seemed so very easy and should have been, or why things don’t work out the way we expect them to.  We look for the reason, the purpose, the meaning and we rarely look very deep and often we ignore reasons if we don’t like them or if they are complicated.  Like trying to find a reason in a past life for a current life issue or trying to find a soul mate connection to explain an attraction we have to someone we shouldn’t or can’t have. Instead of looking further, studying the situation and withholding judgement, looking for all the facts before putting meaning to them, we decide on the meaning and add that to the identity construction we weave our lives out of.

The hard part is that part of why we’re looking to find a cause, we’re not scientists studying things for a career or trying to get published or just fascinated by the study of how things work, we are social creatures and we’re emotionally invested in our lives and our connections with others and the world around us.  What we’re trying to figure out is why this happened to me and what it means for me.  Which is why finding out the actual answer often isn’t satisfying.  Knowing why someone has done something should answer the why, but it doesn’t seem to because what we really want to know is what do we do with the results.  The cause is great to know, but the effects are what we have to deal with.  In actuality we want to know how we can remedy the effects happening in this moment, how we can prevent them from occurring in the future, and how we can move forward from this point.  Knowing the causality of something can help with that in a dryly factual way, but dealing directly with the effect will heal the wound and that takes vulnerability and courage.