On Thinking Well – Part Three

What is hearsay and is it important?

I was fortunate in high school to be trained as a journalist. In my junior year, I began working on the student newspaper, The Mountain Shadows, as a reporter. In my senior year, I was promoted to editorial page editor.

My journalism teacher, Mr. Thompson, saw some writing talent in me and encouraged me to pursue a career as a journalist. To my regret, I decided against this advice because I did not feel I possessed the talent to be an excellent writer in order to make a living.

Journalists, at least back in the 1970’s when I was studying the subject and practicing the craft, were trained in the old-fashioned way: to put aside our personal prejudices, opinions, and viewpoints, concentrating only on gathering the facts of a story. Objective as opposed to subjective reporting.

One of the ways reporters do this is by interviewing people knowledgeable about a subject we might be reporting on. We were required to get the facts by speaking with people having direct knowledge with the subject matter. And this is the part where “hearsay” comes into play.

In one of my previous posts I wrote about the importance of “thinking like a lawyer,” critical to navigating through the deep swamps of PAS/PA. Understanding the concept and legal theory behind hearsay is crucial for learning how the minds of children are manipulated and molded—brainwashed—to turn against a once loved parent.

Children are not the only ones adversely affected by hearsay: adults are also susceptible.

Hearsay is defined as “information received from other people that one cannot adequately substantiate; rumor. A legal definition is “the report of another person’s words by a witness, which is usually disallowed as evidence in a court of law.”

Children are not the only ones adversely affected by hearsay: adults are also susceptible to being unduly influenced by hearsay as children are.

The issue of hearsay is so important in the gathering of evidence that it cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, as I observe people in how they seek to gather information to formulate sound and accurate decisions on any number of subjects, most untrained people rely predominantly on hearsay in the forming of their opinions—to their great detriment.

Hearsay is commonly referred to as “he said, she said” evidence. For example, imagine you are a witness in a criminal trial testifying before a jury. Asked a question by your lawyer you reply, “Jane told me she heard John brag he was planning on robbing the bank…” The opposing attorney would likely say, “Objection—hearsay” and the judge would sustain the objection.

But if you said, “John and I were having lunch. He told me, right to my astonished face, he was planning on robbing a bank…”, this would be allowed without an objection from the opposing attorney. Why? Because this is a “first hand” account and not a “he said, she said” hearsay statement. Put another way, you heard the statement straight from the horse’s mouth instead of hearing it from somebody who heard it from somebody else.

The issue of hearsay is so important in the gathering of evidence that it cannot be overstated.

In seeking to understand how children can be adversely affected by “Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)” or “Parental Alienation (PA),” the topic of “hearsay” is paramount to understanding how this pathology is introduced into the dynamics of a family who finds itself under the dark cloud of PAS/PA.

Children are not the only ones adversely affected by hearsay: adults are just as susceptible to being unduly influenced by hearsay as children are. How? By listening only to the opinions of others concerning someone else instead of hearing from that person themselves.

This distinction is so critical it benefits from a closer inspection. In the case of adult children adversely affected by PAS/PA, so often their opinions of the disfavored parent is tainted by the hearsay of their other parent, the favored parent. By the badmouthing of the disfavored parent through the mouth of the favored parent, the children form negative opinions towards this now disfavored parent and no longer want nothing to do with him or her.

And this hearsay poison not only affects the children’s opinions but also the opinions of those who come within their orbit: boyfriends, girlfriends, husband, wives, friends, etc. And it is only through the astute, mature thinking of these other people who recognize the dark power of hearsay who can cut through this fog of misinformation through employing their critical thinking skills.

One of the most effective and easiest ways of doing this is simply by communicating directly to this other parent, the “alienated” or “disfavored” parent. Or, at the very least, reserving final judgment of this other parent until they have the opportunity of hearing directly from them and not through the tainted filter of hearsay.

Incredibly, most people of all ages, young and old, fail to grasp this distinction: they allow their opinions of the alienated parent to be fully formed by the hearsay from others. And the reason for this faulty reasoning is, in my view, lack of training in critical thinking skills.

To sum this up, I would suggest the following for any child, adult child, or close associate of this child: pass no final judgment on an alienated parent unless and until you have had ample opportunity to personally hear their side of the story, from that parent’s own mouth.

Would this require hard work? Certainly in some cases, and perhaps in most cases, because the fracturing and separating of the family unit due to the nature of the alienating process means the children and significant others of that child no longer have contact with that parent. In the case of their significant others, they have probably never met the other parent. This makes personally communicating with him or her difficult because that parent is a stranger.

As an alienated parent myself, I welcome and encourage my alienated children to call to get my side of the story. The same for their significant others: their boyfriends or husbands, close friends, other family members, etc. Receiving a text, email, or instant message on some social media platform from them as a safe way to “break the ice” would be great.

Hard work? Maybe. Uncomfortable? I understand, but the rewards for reaching out and making oneself vulnerable will be worth it and pay valuable dividends. For knowing the truth of a matter, or at least hearing the other side, is the only way to guarantee you have access to all the needed facts to form an unbiased and objective opinion of that parent.