Earlier I said:
If you're going to allow your own preconceptions to rule how you think, you may as well make it easy on yourself and stock up on the microwavable answer packs that the conspiracy theorists sell.
Well, because there is a critical distinction which can be illustrated with a fun little dialogue.
Imagine that we are both sitting around without much to do. You say to me, "Assuming you had ten million dollars and no commitments to worry about, what would you do with the money?"
I'd say something like, "I think I would buy a really big house in the woods and spend all of my time on the computer. And in my game room. I'd have a very nice game room. What about you?"
"Oh you know, I'd give it to charity. Except maybe I'd keep some for traveling the world."
"Uh-huh. Say, do you want to come over and play pool tonight?"
"Yeah, I do."
"Since I got ten million dollars. I have a huge house with a music studio and a game room and this beautiful pool table."
"Yeah, right. You never had ten million dollars."
"I didn't? I guess I just assumed I did."
And you'd clarify the situation for me. "No, you see, it is fine to assume something. But don't make the mistake of forgetting that you are only making an assumption. Just because you assume something does not make it true."
"Yeah, see I knew that. But it's hard. I always forget that the things I assume aren't necessarily true."
Oh sure go ahead and laugh at how stupid I must be to forget that we were only pretending to have ten million dollars. But the fact is that we all make assumptions all the time. We have to in order to make sense of the world. And most of us repeatedly forget that the assumptions we are making do not necessarily have any basis in reality.
So when I say, we shouldn't allow preconceptions to rule how we think, I am not saying that we can avoid preconceptions. But we need to understand what they are and never put our faith in them. It may save us some embarrassment and disappointment later.