Are all opinions equal?
Most of us insist on our right to our own opinion and that is as it should be. Does that mean everyone's opinion is of equal value?
Honest debate will often prove that certain statements are not facts. It seems to have become a tactic to declare what was previously offered as a fact to be "just my opinion." The statement is now inviolable, holy and above reproach. Honest debate becomes a violation of someone's right to their opinion.
I think that informed opinions are of equal value. If someone is just repeating something that has been told to them or have not answered their own questions, then I will usually not give their opinion as much weight.
Well to keep the flow going how are you going to inform me that your opinion is of equal value to my opinion, when I disagree with you on the value, objectivity, study and testing of the information that you are using to form your opinion.
Well, Larry, the opinion that "I'm a Republican because my daddy was a Republican' to me carries much less weight than 'I'm a Republican because I did my homework and the party supports my views.'
If the issue is of some import. say if Georgie here wants to be elected to some office on the Republican ticket and Larry is trying to disqualify him, then there would be some objective measure to turn a mere opinion into a fact.
I would rather trust a civil engineer's opinion about how to build a bridge. I would rather trust a parent on raising children. I would rather trust someone who has worked retail to tell me what life is like in the real world? (Over a politician, for example, who only shops at retail stores.) I would rather trust a trained theologian to tell me about God. I would rather trust a historian to tell me whether communism works. I would rather trust a scientist to tell me whether my water is safe to drink. In other words, education and experience tend to yield the possibility of a wiser or more correct opinion.
At the same time, engineer's make mistakes, some parents are horrible to their kids, retail tends to hire just about anyone, (politicians still have no apparent value) theologians, historians, and scientists are all biased, weak, and make mistakes.
Opinions are a great springboard for curiosity, discussion and interaction. I can generally tell the difference between an opinion that is largely fluff and an opinion that has some substance. As a rule, when people turn insulting and nasty I figure that their opinion has no substance.
I don't write hubs in areas that I don't have specific training and experience. The last thing I would want to do is form an opinion about how to build an addition only my house. Ultimately, mere opinion isn't really enough to trust outside of the world of abstract discussion. So, to answer the question: I figure that it is ok for everyone to have an opinion, and sure, for the sake of discussion in the abstract world of Hubpages everyone's opinion is equal. Just be careful which opinion you choose to use in the real world.
There can be a difference between what is accurate and well founded in facts and someone's opinion. Some people are careful to draw conclusions based only on facts. Others tend not to recognize that there are opinions based on facts and opinions based on opinion.
I think presenting our opinion as opinion is important, but I also think it's important for some people to recognize that some people only base opinions on facts while others don't even realize there are facts to be checked into and confirmed.
Personal preferences are something else that people sometimes mix in with opinion.
It takes solid reasoning skill to be able to be careful about the difference between one's own personal opinion/preference/beliefs and the kind of educated opinion that, for example, a doctor may offer when he offers "a second opinion". Good reasoning skill will make people say "I think" more than "This is a fact", when they don't have adequate facts available to them (or when adequate facts/information aren't "in yet", even in expert circles) to be 100% certain of something.
People with solid reasoning skills tend to be reasonable enough to know they aren't "all knowing" about all things, and to know that there can still be information that isn't yet out there (or that they don't yet have). People who lack adequate reasoning skills tend to be the ones who don't know enough to realize that there are differences in all these things, and to present them with care.
One problem can be that those who wisely make a certain degree of uncertainty known are often less likely to be listened to than those who speak in loud, aggressive, and sure voice. The loud and aggressive among us often know that and use it; while the more reasonable (and rightfully cautious) among us can often be "written off".
And what I just wrote above is not opinion. It's fact.
I tend to say an opinion is that for which I have no real evidence or reasoning. I think Charlie Chaplin is vastly more hilarious than Eddie Murphy, but I couldn't give a single reason why. In that sense, all opinions are equal, because they are supported with equally absent evidence.
Opinions are fine for issues for which there really isn't any reasoning (such as subjective attractions) or for issues which are inconsequential. There is no cosmic importance, for instance, to my comedic preferences.
But, for issues which do have potential evidence and reasoning, an opinion is essentially the lowest valued statement which can be said. The problem isn't when people state an opinion. The problem is when people act as if the opinion has any value, especially relative to other more valued statements, which do possess some support of evidence or reason.
The opinion for instance that Global Warming isn't happening, supported with little or no evidence, has absolutely no value or worth relative to the alternative position which is supported with hundreds of thousands of peer-reviewed research papers. Yet, it is often given equal weight.
Moral issues are especially difficult. Abortion or drugs for instance. Moral positions are opinions and so there is no way to debate the issue. It would be far more helpful to alter those types of issues into evidence based discussions--what works rather than what is right or wrong. With positions re-framed we would simply weigh the costs and results of various policies and vote on them rather than waging never ending and never progressing arguments about right and wrong.
But, that's just my opinion.
My answer to this question will without a doubt be an opinion. How I feel or react to a given situation or circumstance is in fact my reality so to me it is fact. Therefore I will respond accordingly and give my opinion as it relates to my frame of reference.
If I say,:"Some years ago I went to hear a speech by Bill Clinton. It was the most thought provoking, stimualting, and 'get me fired up' speech I have ever heard prior to or since that time." That would be my view on the situation if it occurred. It would be my opinion. If you had gone and thought the opposite of what I did, that does not make your opinion any less important or significant than mine. You would be expressing your ideas on the situation.
My belief is that no one opinion is more correct or more real than another.
No. (And if you disagree, you're just wrong.)
If I have the opinion that I have learned how to fly, and someone challenges me on it, I have two choices. I can say that it is just my opinion and no one can talk me out of it, or I can back up my statement. It would not take long to determine whose opinion was of greater value.
Of course, there are situations where the truth is not so clear. This does not mean, however, that the truth does not exist. With complex questions, it is best to adopt opinions that can be supported by reason and evidence. (Or at least that's my opinion.) And if someone adopts a different opinion that seems to have the support of reason and evidence, I will have a certain amount of respect for it. (But if their only argument is "it's just my opinion," I will avoid in-depth discussions with them in the future.)
And if I am truly wise, I will continually adjust my opinion in the face of continually evolving information. On most difficult questions where you have smart people on both ideological extremes, the truth is probably floating around in the middle somewhere anyway.
Having different opinions from different sources are good as they allow us to view from their angles.
We maybe thinking that our opinions are correct but having different opinions being voiced allow us to rethink of what you are thinking. It is like having a group of people brainstorming an idea. This is always productive when different opinions are being shared.
In elementary school, I learned that a valid opinion is based on facts, and not contrafactual. I would also add now, based on a belief that Truth is loving and harmless, that opinions that create suffering for ourselves or others are problematic.
We cannot change anyone else's opinion. But we can choose whether to relate to someone based on the sensibility (fact-based quality) and loving harmlessness of their opinions and beliefs.
I'd say that Truth is not always loving. Indeed, I've seen Truth used like a weapon.
An opinion can usually be useful if we're clear about it being an opinion. It can be useful to know how other people perceive things (another kind of Truth...)
I think the idea of value is fundamentally subjective, therefore rather like an opinion. There is no standard of value, no one way to measure it. I guess someone could say that everyone's opinions are of equal value, because they have no quantitative value, therefore have an equal value of nothing. But that's paradoxical, isn't it?
You preface your question with your opinion that it is right for us to insist on holding our own opinion. This might not be the best starting point. Ones opinion, like religion, politics, sporting team or nationality, is always the best. If you hold an opinion already, it is unlikely to be swayed.
Most problems arise when multiple parties already hold differing opinions. Wiping our minds of opinion is difficult, so treating all opinion as equal is essential for listening to argument without prejudice. Understanding reality should be done on the basis of what is real. Facts are real. Opinions can be based on whimsy or malice.
Treat opinions like yesterdays clothes. Take them off, put them in the clothes basket and only put them back on after they have been laundered with a good dose of reality.
I agree with you. And there is a difference between having and holding. Having=this is my $.02 I'd like to put out there and see what happens. Holding=This is my baby! MINE!MINE! ALL MINE! So there!
Rhonda, what's the problem with holding an opinion? We can all believe something different and, as long as noone will get injured, it's ok.
This is a lofty question. It really is! Opinion/s has such a duality attached to it that the very notion of quantifying one over another can be inadvertently dangerous. To that statement, Ms. Johnson, if you do find an answer, you may just find the way to world peace. Good luck! As far as all opinions being equal, I'll plead the fifth until I can construct, what else, a more substantial opinion. Brilliant question also!
Being a disciple of Christ, only His "opinion" matters! John said in John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease." Now if that is our ultimate goal, to become less of self and more like Him, then only His opinion matters or rather what the Word of God says concerning "all" issues.
To unbelievers, everyone is entitled to "their opinion!" However, for believers, it is the Word of God that tells us to "...teach all nations..."
I realize that you are looking for an "intellectual" or "worldly" response which doesn't matter, for the Word of God says in Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and "lean not unto thine own understanding. (v6) In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths."
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