Thursday, February 7, 2013

Opinions vs. Facts

Alright, here's something that's been popping up a lot over the last week or so, and it's really starting to bother me...

"I don't like onions, they taste awful." That? That's an opinion. Some people will have conflicting opinions on the subject, after all some people actually like the taste of onions, and that's fine. People might debate a bit on the merits of onions, various cooking methods, varieties, and so on, but at the end of the day...? It's all just personal opinion. Not much can be done about it - although it could possibly change over time on it's own. (I hated yellow mustard as a kid, and in the last year I've fallen in love with it.)

"All species of bear eat bamboo in their natural habitat." That? That is not an opinion. It's a fact. Facts, as we know, can be wrong - this one is, of course, wrong.

Now sometimes the line isn't always clear. One might have an opinion based on the facts available to them. If those facts are wrong? Well, we can see what that might do to their opinion. Pointing out this issue should not really be seen as an attack on the individual, yet that's often how it's taken.

Now that, I just... I don't get it. If I had based an opinion or belief on something incorrect, I'd want to know! It's happened before. I'm sure it will happen again. I'm not perfect, I've believed incorrect information, and I have held beliefs that just plain old did not make sense. When that was brought to my attention? I considered the new evidence, or what was being said to me, and if appropriate I changed my opinion to reflect the new information or ideas.

Evaluation of personal opinions and beliefs is not a bad thing. If you never examine your personal beliefs, how are you ever going to grow, or develop a deeper awareness of them? Of course, this is now starting to get into an issue I wrote about many months back. It's okay to think someone's beliefs are wrong, and it's okay to debate beliefs.

It's not a matter of discussing a particular individual's belief, and after discussion they still believe in it - that's fine! You can look at a belief, question it, examine it, get other opinions on it... and still have that same belief after all is said and done. That's a good way to form strong, well thought out beliefs.

The problem is when people seem to want to stick their opinions and beliefs up on these untouchable pedestals. They want to share them with the world, but when someone disagrees? No, no, you can't do that. That's not nice. Of course, the same people seem to take no issue with giving out their opposing views. They're just giving their opinion. If you want to disagree with, or discuss that opinion? Nope, can't do that - that belief is way up on that sacred pedestal.

If you only want to hear the people that agree with you, what's the point?

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