Friday, October 28, 2016

You Could Be Wrong

You Could Be Wrong

“In my honest opinion ...”

"Just my opinion, of course ..."

"I'm entitled to my opinion ..."

" I am of the opinion that ..."

"It goes without saying that ..."

We've all heard expressions like these. When discussing some matter relevant to how we feel about a subject, we express an opinion.

Most people think that their opinion is unimpeachable. After all, it is what someone believes, usually without any reservation or second thought.

What most people don't seem to realise is that their opinions might be wrong.

Wrong? How can the way one feels be wrong?

Well, let's take an extreme example. Hitler was of the opinion that Jews were the bane of human existence and decided the only solution was to eradicate the Jewish race. Every morning, when he crawled out of bed, he probably didn't think that his opinion was wrong. In fact, I'm guessing he thought he was perfectly right in his beliefs. He really saw himself, as strange as this may seem, as doing "good."

Common sense tells us that Hitler's determination to commit genocide was wrong. The question is: Why didn't Hitler see what we see?

The answer is simple enough. Hitler, like so many evil-doers in our world, was a master of self-deception.

None of us, hopefully, are like Hitler. However, many of us exhibit the same self-deception by forming an opinion and "locking it in" as if it were some kind of irrefutable truth. We never even entertain the notion that our opinion(s) might be wrong. In the course of growing up, we are so bombarded by the notion that we must be "true to ourselves." As a result, we typically refuse to entertain self-doubt. Instead, we stand fast in the belief that whatever it is we "feel" must be absolutely right.

If any of us seriously wants to be "correct" about some important matter, then we must allow for some doubt, some self-examination of what we espouse to be true. Questioning our beliefs is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is a sign that we are able to grow and change as individuals. Anyone who maintains that he or she has "strong" opinions and who will not waiver from that opinion is simply reasserting his or her "right" to have his or her opinion. Put another way, he or she is simply affirming his or her "right" to be wrong.

Too often, people will use this "appeal to opinion" as a building block in an argument to convince you that they "know better" with regards to some important matter. For example, no one can stop a person from saying that vaccines cause autism, no matter how many times that claim has been disproven. Everyone has the "right" to express a belief, but just because you can state a belief doesn't make your belief "right."

After all, there are facts, and there is bullshit. People who form opinions based on facts have something to offer any conversation. People who simply live and think by the seat of their pants have only cow pies cooked up in the short-order kitchens of their simplistic, inflexible minds.

Just my opinion, of course ...




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