Thursday, July 8, 2010

That's Just My Opinion

     It seems to be a rather widespread notion these days that “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion,” and on the face of it, I agree. But behind this notion lurks the further belief that all opinions are equal, mine is as good as yours, and I can easily dismiss yours with, “That’s just your opinion.” And on this point, I could not disagree more.
      In some cases, one’s opinion really doesn’t matter to anyone else. In my opinion corn is much tastier than carrots, but with the exception of my wife who does the grocery shopping, or my restaurateur when I order a side dish, no one cares. However, if I keep insisting to my circle of friends that corn is definitely better than carrots, I soon find the circle getting very small.
      How can two opinions be compared? Perhaps by their truth value. If two people arrive at opposite conclusions from the same set of public facts, at least one of them must be wrong. If millions of customers are of the opinion that brand A is better than brand B, brand A will succeed and brand B will fail
      It would be much easier to resolve conflicting opinions if everyone attempted to base opinions on facts, but that is not the case. We usually base our opinions on what we see and hear on TV, what friends tell us, on what our favorite commentator has to say, etc. And unfortunately, in many cases our communicator has accepted someone else’s word on the subject, or else has a hidden agenda.
      There is a huge industry out there whose sole purpose is to change the public’s opinion about everything from soap to autos, from political policies to pharmaceuticals, from black to white; truth has little bearing upon the message. Does the little bear really like toilet paper A because it is softer than paper B, and if so, who cares?
      How can we arrive at the truth behind an opinion? One way is to do a little independent study. If Barack, Rush, the pastor or a friend says, “Proposition A is true,” automatically (and silently) add “in your opinion,” to the sentence. Is your communicator trying to sell an agenda? Is he in a position to know what he is talking about? Examine the evidence. Are Canadians really happy with their healthcare? Polls abound on the subject – go to the internet and look at the evidence first hand.
      If study materials are not readily available, check with someone who knows the subject matter. He is less likely to be wrong than someone repeating what he has heard someone, who has heard someone, etc…say. If your car develops a bad rattle, would you rather trust a friend who says his car made the same noise back in 1987 and it turned out to be water in the gas line, or a technician who has spent years learning his occupation?
      Whether the subject is global warming, economics, medicine or whatever, it is a good idea to rely on the opinions of people who have invested their lives trying to understand it. Beware the hidden, or not so hidden, agenda.
      That’s my opinion.
      Perhaps because the gods’ answers to the desires of humans were unpredictable, the Greeks endowed their gods with the same fancies and whims that they observed in their fellow mortals. Thus we find that the leader of the gods, Zeus, was a playboy who had affairs with both human women and goddesses. After suffering a painful punishment for her part in a revolt against her husband, his wife, Hera, spent much of her time bestowing revenge upon the objects of Zeus’s amorous advances. Since all other gods in the Greek Pantheon also had their idiosyncrasies, unexpected results, or no results at all, to human pleadings were not surprising.
      Man Takes Control – The Spirit Runs Through It.

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