How to Make an Informed Opinion
Fighting the uninformed
There are a lot of people out there who are living in their own zone, trapped in a nutshell. Sometimes, they express themselves as though they were examining the world through a narrow pipe. They have little or NO information, and yet they put forth these absolute statements. Have you ever met someone like this? Quick to judge? Quick to attack? Thinking that they know everything, walking about as though they had incontrovertible powers of omniscience?
Well, I've definitely met people like this, especially here in Slovakia. For example, the other day I was talking to one woman about my 68-year-old British friend. Currently, he's dating a 27-year-old woman. This lady knew nothing more than this very basic information. As soon as I told her this, she waved her hand away and said, "Oh, she doesn't love him! She's just with him for financial suport."
I got upset. I said to her, "You don't know this man. You don't know this woman. And yet you're sure that she doesn't love him?"
This is just typical. People have little or no information, and they put forth these absolute statements as though they were inscribing a sacred law upon the face of a holy mountain. Another example, I was talking to a guy about Quentin Tarantino's movie Deathproof. I've read a few interviews with Tarantino in which he talks about his life, discussing what a fun time he's having making films. To me, he came across as though he lives in a cinephile's fantasia. That guy leads a candy-colored existence, with no responsibilities and with his giant movie theater at home. He's having a great life, according to him.
The man I was talking to definitely didn't like Deathproof. At some point, based on the interviews I had read with Tarantino, I said, "Tarantino seems like a happy guy."
"No," the guy said gravely. "He's not happy. Someone who would make a movie like Deathproof is NOT a happy person."
What a childish, empty-headed comment to make, right? What a narrow, caveman view of the world, exemplary of the perspective of a cretin who's been dwelling in a cave for hundreds of years.
I have an American friend who lives in Taiwan. At that time he was dating a Taiwanese girl. Once he was in McDonald's with his Hong Kong friend Leonard. While they're consuming their fast food, out of nowhere, Leonard suddenly says, "The reason why she's with you is because you're a foreigner and you can help her with her English."
What is this? Where did this come from? The guy had never spoken to my friend's girl, never met her, and yet he's making this RUDE assumption. Why are people so intent on making assumptions?
I once told another woman that a male friend of mine was getting a divorce. I further informed her that it was his wife who wanted the divorce. This is the only piece of information this woman owned, nothing else. Suddenly she said, "He must not have been a good man."
Of course, I put her on the correct path. I was like "What?! NO, she was the bad one there. He didn't want a divorce due to their three children. She was super jealous and she was actually cheating on him throughout all that. She was doing crazy things like calling up all the women on his contact list, throwing his phone out the window, and burning up his ID card. But of course, this woman naturally ASSUMED that it was my friend who was at fault, even though she had little or NO information.
The important thing is, when someone says something, don't assume that you know what's behind it. Just stay still, clear your mind. No knee-jerk judgments. Wait to collect enough data. Sift through the data carefully, analyze it, throw out what seems unimportant, keep what seems important. Then, and only THEN, form an opinion.
It's a simple process, and yet, there are so many people who never engage in this before formulating an opinion. They are a wellspring of assumptions and no matter how much information you give them, they continue to persist in their ugly presumptuousness.
Collecting and studying sufficient information is absolutely vital to forming our own thoughts on various subjects, solidifying our perspective and worldview. It's a procedure that helps to develop our intelligence, making us more humane and perseptive beings. In the end, it leads to self-growth, to a significant bettering of ourselves.