Tag Archives: skeptic

The Importance of Opinions

It is pretty obvious to many people why we have opinions.  But have you ever really contemplated about the topic of opinions in other angles?   Many people take opinions for granted.

Let’s say that you hear someone state their opinion, and you disagree.  Depending on your personality type, how passionately you feel about the topic, how right or wrong you feel the person’s opinion is, your mood, and some other factors, you may do one of many things.  You may (1) automatically get defensive and try to disprove that person’s opinion, (2) rationally state your opinion without bashing their opinion, but kindly stating that you disagree, (3) try to persuade the person into believing your opinion without getting too defensive, (4) not consider their opinion at all, (5) consider their opinion because you believe everything people say, (6) consider their opinion because you have respect for that person in particular because he / she is a highly credible source, or (7) automatically assume that the other person is incorrect because you have held onto your opinion for so long.  Of course there are plenty more reaction possibilities, but these are just some broad examples.  If you were to disagree with this person, of course your reaction would probably be different based on the varying factors mentioned.  But in my opinion, we should develop a mature, reasonable way to react to others’ opinions.

Tips:

  • Even if someone is pushy, you don’t need to be pushy back.  Remember, two wrongs don’t make a right.  (Granted, that is if being pushy is “wrong”… that’s another story.)  I wouldn’t recommend being over-bearing on stating your opinion, but rather simply stating why you feel the way you do.
  • Listen to the other person’s opinion, no matter how wrong you think it may be.  Even if you have a bias opinion about the person, even the opinion is not coming from a credible source, or even if you totally disagree with the person, hear them out!  Ask them why they feel the way they do.  Often times you will actually learn something from them, regardless if their opinion is not the same as yours.  You may start considering hypothetical scenarios that you otherwise wouldn’t have considered if you listen to them thoroughly.  Even if they sound like an idiot, we may still learn from that person.   That probably sounds like an oxy moron of some sort, but we can actually learn from those opinions that we find totally off base.  You may be wondering, how do we learn from these people?  Well, just think… often times we form our own opinions solely on hearing so many angles to a topic, and we use process of elimination to form our own opinion.  For example, if someone were to say to you, “Penelope is such an ugly girl,” it’s a fact that they find Penelope ugly (unless they’re lying), but the concept of that person finding Penelope ugly is an opinion.  Maybe you had never contemplated Penelope’s appearance before.  So you stop to think… and you think some more… and you say, “No, Penelope is not ugly.  She is attractive.”  And you just formed your own opinion because someone else encouraged you to think about their opinion and you realized you felt opposite then them on the matter.  Another example is as follows:  Someone says to you that chocolate tastes better than vanilla.  Let’s say you love both chocolate and vanilla, but maybe you like chocolate a little bit more.  So because they say that opinion to you, it gets you to think about your own opinion.    You see, so there is nothing wrong with someone having their own opinion.  In fact, it may help us in some cases.  However, there is a fine line between being rude and stating your opinion, as described below.
  • When you state your opinion, try not to be too offensive.  Try to avoid criticizing someone, directly or indirectly.  For example, let’s say you’re talking to your male friend Paul, who wears velcro sneakers most of the time.  And you say, “I think it’s ugly when men wear Velcro sneakers.”  Depending on Paul’s personality, he may or may not take offense.  Plus, it depends on how you state your opinion.  Tone is everything when it comes to statements like these.  If you say it in a playful manner, there’s probably a better chance Paul won’t take offense.
  • Consider others’ opinions on all topics and listen thoroughly.  I don’t think it is wise to just cut the person off, just because you feel your opinion is ‘correct’.  Your opinion can actually morph if you’re more open-minded and receptive to others’ opinions!  That is, unless you are adamant on your opinion so much that you just won’t change it no matter what.   If you listen to someone else’s opinion, it may help form your own.  Sometimes we don’t know how we think about a topic until we are asked!  And sometimes we don’t know how we feel about a topic until we hear a ridiculous opinion from someone else… it kind us enables us to process their opinion and say “no way!”Here is a good example:  Consider abortion.  Is it ethical?  Is it moral?  This is an obviously long-standing debate, and it’s no wonder.  There are both good points from both ends of the spectrum.  About 20 years ago, around the age of 10, if you asked me if abortion was ethical in any situation, I’d say NO.  That’s because I had not considered many other hypothetical situations that come into play when dealing with such a touchy topic.  I used to say that abortion was so wrong!  Now, I say that it is wrong in many cases.  But I would find exceptions to the rule!  I think, just like any rule, there are always exceptions.  What if the mother learns during pregnancy that she will die if the baby is born?  Should she abort or keep the baby?  I could understand if the mother decided to abort in this case.  The problem with abortion being legal is that it influences people to use it as a back-up precaution to not have a baby.  But that’s just my opinion.  I am pro-choice, but only to an extent.  I think that there needs to be extenuating circumstances involved to warrant an abortion.   I’d say abortion is also understandable when dealing with a woman who is raped, or a woman who finds she will give birth to a baby that has a tragic, debilitating terminal disease.  But where do we draw the line?  Are many females who abort regretful of their decision because of abortion being legal, they feel it is more justified to use as back-up?  But when dealing with the abortion controversy, the issue is usually centered around whether or not an embryo has feelings.  Without getting to scientifically involved in this subject, I would argue that anything is okay given the right circumstances.  But one should not justify their actions.  We should not rely too heavily on an abortion being there “just in case”.  I think with abortion being legal in the USA, it lures many females in to getting an abortion. Now, we should be able to control our temptation, but if something is legal, sometimes people are more inclined to think it is “okay” to do it, since the law says you can.    Anyway, back to what I was saying before I got way off topic:  I used to believe that it was never okay to abort in any circumstance.  But then someone said to me, “What if the baby will be born with a horrible disease?”  And then my opinion changed, just like that!   And then for a while I was pro-choice, no matter any situation.   Perhaps, just like any issue, a person could have one opinion about something, until something in their life happens that makes their opinion shift slightly or change completely.  Just think of a topic that you had an opinion on, that when someone posed some questions to you, your opinion gradually morphed somewhat and you said, “Well in that case…”  This brings us to the point:
  • Ask questions.  Sometimes if you already have your opinion formed about a topic, doesn’t mean you can’t add to your opinion or strengthen your opinion.  Sometimes by asking others why they feel the way they do, you may learn from them.  You may even help them form or strengthen their opinion.  However, take pride in your opinion if you’re passionate about it.  Don’t be too easily brainwashed or easily manipulated! If you hear someone’s opinion, make sure you rationalize why you want to agree with it.  If you can’t find substance to agree, don’t haphazardly agree.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  But one suggestion is that you should form your opinions based on concrete beliefs from experience and validity, not just based off of bias views, or personal agendas.  Sometimes opposing views can help validate and reinforce why we have the opinions we already have.  Or, in other cases, our opinions may shift.And the oxy moron here is that my opinion is that you should do that… which then, is just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt if you’d like!!  No harm done!

Sometimes people will state their opinion as factual.  I guess if someone truly “knows” their opinion as fact, then perhaps in their mind it is a fact, or maybe it is fact, but there is a fine line between fact and opinion in many cases.  If someone says, “I think that the sky will be green tomorrow,” that is a fact that he or she thinks that, unless they’re lying, but it’s an opinion that the sky will be green tomorrow.   But what if they somehow know it will be green?  (Yeah, that’s so far-fetched, I know.)  So this topic becomes a paradox, because this could just go back and forth forever.  Who knows if someone can really know something as factual?  Is everything we think a mere opinion?  Or do we ever really know anything?  I know that sounds crazy, but just look at how many theories and even topics argued as “factual” have been debunked.  I could say to you, “I have brown hair.”  That may be a fact, but do I really know I have brown hair?  Well, the short answer is “of course!”  I know that when I look in the mirror that is what I see, so that would be factual… until, someone proves otherwise.  I know, it sounds silly, but perhaps we may never know anything 100%.  Heck, sometimes I don’t even know if we’re all really here or if we’re just a part of someone else’s dream. Just kidding:)  But who knows… that could be a possibility.  Maybe the “truths” will be revealed in the end.  This poses another issue, phenomenons   Do they exist?  Well, let’s just say that you flip a penny 100 times and every single time it lands on its edge (the 2 millimeter edge).  Yeah, that sounds so unrealistic.  But… what if it actually happened?!  I know that would seem nearly impossible, but I believe in phenomenons.   But that would be more of a case on probability, not so much phenomena;  however, it would seem surreal for that to occur.  Another example is that someone claims to have gotten beat up by the NJ Devil (the urban legend).  What if this devil did exist?  Don’t worry, I don’t think that these things do exist, but if it happened, I wouldn’t be surprised, and I am open minded to almost any possibilities in this world.  I’m not gullible either.  I may come across as gullible if I believed something so crazy-sounding.  But things aren’t always what they seem.  I really am just that open-minded.  I have had a series of bizarre things happen to me, so I think that is why I am more inclined to believe others’ crazy stories.  When I was just a child, I was taught in school about opinion vs. fact, as most of us are.  I always took a liking to that topic, but it wasn’t until I was in my mid twenties that I began questioning what is factual.  I know what people want to hear about what is factual. But honestly, what is factual?  The laws of science state that if something is done a significant amount of times with the same reaction, it becomes a law of science, or pretty much a fact.  But what if some phenomenon occurred that defied laws of science?  Then was it ever factual?  Is anything ever truly proven?  If we can see it, taste it, feel it, and so forth, is that all we need?  Or do we require more to prove?  Of course, it would be obvious to many that our senses, logic, reasoning, and education will help prove something.  But being open-minded enough may have you questioning if even that is enough at times.   Now, I’m not some skeptic who just goes around trying to disprove things.  In fact, I just say, “It is what it is.”  But,  I don’t go around believing everything either.