It's just my opinion

One thing I’ve noticed is some people seem to have strong opinions about many things - politics, sports, entertainment, education…you name it. The strange thing about it is even when they had never heard about a topic before, say, quantum entanglement, within a few minutes they’d develop an opinion based on what they heard. It seems this is part of our cultural identity to be able to develop an “original” opinion as quickly as possible. 

Surely it’s something to be celebrated, right? Being able to derive a conclusion from existing evidence is just logical, and a sign of intelligence, isn't it right? Most people who talk about their opinions on TV seem pretty smart, too.

I’m not so sure about it.

In order to form an educated opinion you’ll need to research enough information about the topic. I believe there’s a critical mass in the amount of information someone needs to gather before an educated opinion can start to develop. The problem here is the quality of information. It’s more common to research and encounter misinformation and/or disinformation of a topic than truth. The amount of misinformation probably spreads much faster than the truth [1], and so statistically speaking you are more likely to gather new information which is false than true. The access to the internet and availability of social media makes it easier to form an uneducated opinion. The more you spend time researching a topic the less time you have to research others, and therefore less time to develop other opinions. 

Naturally you should not be able to have too many educated opinions given limited resources. However, democracy requires you to have those opinions, even though you don’t have time to educate yourself. Every vote you cast, every box you tick on your ballot, every politician you donate to, you need to have an opinion. It’s impossible to avoid the need for opinions. Liberal democracy grants all adult citizens the right to vote, and in order to exercise that right, you need to have an opinion about the vote!

Sad news is this obsession with opinions starts to define who we are. All we talk about are our opinions, all we care about are our opinions. Our emotions are slaves to the opinions we carry. We argue, we fight, we go to war for our opinions. 

Whatever happened to “it’s just my opinion.” 

[1] Johan Ugander: How misinformation spreads faster than truth | Stanford University School of Engineering 


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