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  #1  
Old 01 March 2016, 03:39 PM
FatherOf4 FatherOf4 is offline
 
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Default Why are you so sure about you opinion?

One (of the many) things that I find hard to understand is why people are so convinced that their opinion is right, especially in areas where "right" seems almost impossible to determine. So I'm curious, how / when do you decide that yuor opinion is valid enough to argue about it, or even go as far as to look down on others who don't hold the same opinion?

Some examples (that hopefully won't derail the conversation).

- Raising the minimum range. I've seen lots of people on both sides of this debate express very strong opinions on the economic implications of doing this. However if seems that even the experts disagree, probably because implications are so complex that no-one really knows what will happen. And yet lots of people with no economic background at all will argue over whether it 's the right thing to do.

- How to "defeat" extremists/terrorists. It seemsto be such a complex topic, and one perhaps with no answer at all. And yet I've seen plenty of people arguing that their solution is the right one.

- A Canadian example. Our military wants/needs to replace it's fighter jets. the F35 was selected as the replacement. Many people are convinced they know whether this is the right or wrong decision. However it seems to me once again to be an extremely complicated problem, with many of the facts what would be needed to make a decision not even available to the public. Yet people are convinced they are right.

So how do you decided your opinion is worth defending / arguing over?
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  #2  
Old 01 March 2016, 04:14 PM
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Psihala Psihala is offline
 
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I'd answer, but I have this weird feeling I'd be walking into a catch-22 situation.

~Psihala
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  #3  
Old 01 March 2016, 04:24 PM
FatherOf4 FatherOf4 is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Psihala View Post
I'd answer, but I have this weird feeling I'd be walking into a catch-22 situation.

~Psihala
I'm curious what you mean. If you suspect an agenda on my part, I don't have one. I'm honestly curious to understand how other people think.
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  #4  
Old 01 March 2016, 04:42 PM
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Psihala Psihala is offline
 
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It has nothing to do with having "an agenda". It has more to do with the risk of stating what is going to be perceived as an opinion on the matter, and then having to defend why I have it.

~Psihala
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Old 01 March 2016, 04:55 PM
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Well I'll wade in and agree with Dadof4 that this drives me nuts. But it's one thing to have an opinion even if you're not an expert in the subject it's another to state your opinion as fact. To move away from political subjects I also get a little irritated when people say things like "well in my opinion Shakespeare is over rated". Oh yes? And you're exhaustive study of Romeo and Juliet in grade 8 qualifies you to make this sweeping assessment because why exactly? Oh because you didn't like it? Alrighty then.
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  #6  
Old 01 March 2016, 05:31 PM
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Aimee Evilpixie Aimee Evilpixie is offline
 
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People think their opinions are right because everyone is the hero of their own story and people hate to admit they're wrong.

Piggybacking on Sue's complaint, I get really annoyed when people try to justify their dislike of a thing by making claims that are factually wrong.

"I don't like anime because it all looks the same." Yes, you got me, Howl's Moving Castle and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt cannot be told apart at all.

"I don't like Lady Gaga, she can't sing and just uses autotune." Yeah, no musical talent there at all, clearly she relies on autotune for everything.

I just... You're allowed to not like things! You don't have to justify it! It's fine to say "Oh, yeah, I listened to that thing and I just don't like it." It's like food--you put it in your mouth and your mouth is like "No more of that," and that should be the end of it. I put some music in my ears and my ears are like "No more of that," and it shouldn't need to be explained or justified.
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Old 01 March 2016, 05:36 PM
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Adding to that, there is also no need to demonize someone who disagrees with you unless the reason they are disagreeing with you actually is demonic. It's perfectly possible to be against abortion or for capital punishment and still be a nice person, misguided but nice. As long as their reasons can be expressed respectfully and they can respect my reasons for disagreeing I don't need to paint then as "the evil that walks among us" when I talk about them.
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  #8  
Old 01 March 2016, 05:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatherOf4 View Post
One (of the many) things that I find hard to understand is why people are so convinced that their opinion is right, especially in areas where "right" seems almost impossible to determine...
I side with anthropologists who argue that the human mind is a pattern-matching machine. The forge of our species was an environment in which acting intelligently on incomplete and contradictory information led more often to survival than not acting. To be or not to be, and all that jazz.
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  #9  
Old 01 March 2016, 05:41 PM
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One of the reasons I post here is to test my own opinions. If I find I can't defend them against reasonable objectors, maybe I should change my mind, or at least be less vehement on the subject.

As to how I decide whether I've got an opinion on a given subject in the first place . . . hmm. I think that itself is a complicated process. I suspect the opinion is often coming from what I call the back of the head -- the portion of the mind that doesn't work on standard logic -- but I try to remember to check opinions with the front of the head -- with whether I have a rational basis for them -- before letting them come out of my mouth/hitting 'post' or 'send'. (I'm not always successful in this.)

I do think the back of the head has a legitimate place in the decision, though. One reason some issues are so contentious is that agreement on the facts, even if all parties have the same set of facts, doesn't necessarily settle the matter, because people put different amounts of weight on different benefits and disadvantages.

-- There's an essential difference between opinions on such things as whether a given food tastes good or a given piece of music sounds good, and opinions on such things as whether the minimum wage should be raised. Nobody can legitimately contradict anybody else on whether the food tastes good to that specific person -- so the problem is only with people who say that because it tastes good or bad to them the food is essentially good or bad. But the society as a whole has to decide what to do about the minimum wage; leaving it up to individuals to decide amounts to deciding not to have one at all. And leaving it up to people with economics degrees would leave huge numbers of those affected out of the conversation -- including leaving out their feedback as to why specific economic theories often don't work in practice.
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  #10  
Old 01 March 2016, 05:41 PM
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Aimee Evilpixie Aimee Evilpixie is offline
 
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ETA: This was in response to Sue.

Well, to be fair, I don't care how politely some opinions are expressed, if they are demeaning to me personally or to a group of marginalized people, the person expressing them is an arse.
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  #11  
Old 01 March 2016, 05:47 PM
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I had a friend who expressed all her preferences as normative. Example: People who like peanut butter and chocolate together have unformed palates.

Or, you know, you just don't like it. But she got irritated if you said that.
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  #12  
Old 01 March 2016, 05:53 PM
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The older I get the fewer strong opinions I hold.
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  #13  
Old 01 March 2016, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aimee Evilpixie View Post
ETA: This was in response to Sue.

Well, to be fair, I don't care how politely some opinions are expressed, if they are demeaning to me personally or to a group of marginalized people, the person expressing them is an arse.
The problem with this attitude is that it gets carried over into a lot of arenas that are far from important in the grand scheme of things. Kudos to you if you differentiate but the Internet is littered with people who feel anyone who disagrees with them about anything is an arse. For that matter polite discourse goes a lot further if the intent is to change someone's mind, or at least give them food for thought. If what you want to do is make it clear that all who hold an opinion that differs from yours is an extremist with no redeeming qualities that's fine but it's also not true.
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  #14  
Old 01 March 2016, 06:00 PM
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Aimee Evilpixie Aimee Evilpixie is offline
 
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Well obviously all people who like pickles are horrible monsters who are out to get me by putting pickles in things that shouldn't have pickles, or putting an unnecessary pickle too close to my grilled cheese sandwich so maybe some pickle juice got on there and there's no way to be sure.
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  #15  
Old 01 March 2016, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
One of the reasons I post here is to test my own opinions. If I find I can't defend them against reasonable objectors, maybe I should change my mind, or at least be less vehement on the subject.
Same here. I've changed my opinion on a few things based on what I've read on this board. One thing I've learned is that some issues that seem very open and shut based on what my family and circle of friends may believe are anything but!

Other big lesson snopes has taught me is never to base my opinion on something solely on the first news article I read - well I say taught me, let's just say that's a work in progress .
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  #16  
Old 01 March 2016, 06:11 PM
FatherOf4 FatherOf4 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beachlife! View Post
The older I get the fewer strong opinions I hold.
I've discovered the same thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
-- There's an essential difference between opinions on such things as whether a given food tastes good or a given piece of music sounds good, and opinions on such things as whether the minimum wage should be raised. Nobody can legitimately contradict anybody else on whether the food tastes good to that specific person -- so the problem is only with people who say that because it tastes good or bad to them the food is essentially good or bad. But the society as a whole has to decide what to do about the minimum wage; leaving it up to individuals to decide amounts to deciding not to have one at all. And leaving it up to people with economics degrees would leave huge numbers of those affected out of the conversation -- including leaving out their feedback as to why specific economic theories often don't work in practice.
I agree there is a difference in theory . However, if as in the case of minimum wage, we don't have enough facts or knowledge to understand what will be the outcome, I don't see how vigorously arguing for ones opinion, or especially looking down someone who holds a different opinion makes any more sense than ageing about whether pickles on a sandwich are a good idea.
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Old 01 March 2016, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatherOf4 View Post
I've discovered the same thing.



I agree there is a difference in theory . However, if as in the case of minimum wage, we don't have enough facts or knowledge to understand what will be the outcome, I don't see how vigorously arguing for ones opinion, or especially looking down someone who holds a different opinion makes any more sense than ageing about whether pickles on a sandwich are a good idea.
Debating raising the minimum wage allows for - requires, even - the use of research by various think tanks, examples of similar policies elsewhere, the positions taken by parties, politicians, companies, trade unions and the like, the makeup of the relevant body (congress, parliament) passing legislation, and so on. There is material out there to be read and debated, and the media cover this stuff.

Pickles on a sandwich is a personal preference and nothing more.

Just because you can't predict the impact of the former with 100% certainty doesn't make it as wholly subjective as the latter. And since if you're on a low wage this is the sort of thing that might influence your choice of vote one way or the other, it makes perfect sense to take a position on it and to debate that position with others.

It's important to remain open to developing ones position in the light of new arguments or information, but that isn't an argument against taking a position at all, nor against defending it, vigorously or otherwise.

I would also echo Amy that politeness and respectability are not the be all and end all. If someone is expressing views that are homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, ableist etc then I'm not sure it makes much difference that they've done so "politely"; equally, when oppressed people are talking about their experiences I don't think it's helpful to insist they "tone it down".
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  #18  
Old 01 March 2016, 06:35 PM
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In my opinion, my opinions are always right. If I thought any of my opinions were wrong they would no longer be my opinions!

But that doesn't mean I think all my opinions are unquestionable, unchangeable or necessarily even factually accurate. When it comes to opinions, 'right' is a matter of personal opinion. My opinions are right for me at this point in time and with the knowledge I have available.

And so are yours.

The word 'opinion' is starting to look rather odd now, in my opinion.
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  #19  
Old 01 March 2016, 06:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beachlife! View Post
The older I get the fewer strong opinions I hold.
Me too. I am comfortable stating that Nuclear Energy is a good, safe and viable way to reduce carbon emissions.

But I have no idea if Yucca Mountain is a good, safe, or viable storage solution for nuclear waste. I have seen many very well informed geologists argue for and against it. I am not a geologist, and it seems geologists don't have consensus on the issue, so I am okay with having no opinion on the matter. I did a lot of research into it, I used to live quite close. I recognize that the issue is over my head.

The older I get, the more things there are for which I feel that way. Back to the OP, I feel that way about the F-35.

With other issues, I find that much of the arguing is based on logical fallacies. I find that disagreement over the minimum wage often has much to do with false dichotomies - many people argue over raising the minimum wage to $15.00/hour or not raising it at all, ignoring the middle ground.

Or, they just ignore complexity. Defeating extremism is a very complex thing to do.
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  #20  
Old 01 March 2016, 06:49 PM
Coughdrops Coughdrops is offline
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sue View Post
Adding to that, there is also no need to demonize someone who disagrees with you unless the reason they are disagreeing with you actually is demonic. It's perfectly possible to be against abortion or for capital punishment and still be a nice person, misguided but nice. As long as their reasons can be expressed respectfully and they can respect my reasons for disagreeing I don't need to paint then as "the evil that walks among us" when I talk about them.
I think it might be that we perceive our opinions as part of our self, and encountering a different opinion can be perceived by our brains as hostility. The more strongly we feel about something, particularly if it allows us to have a descriptive label (Pro-choice/life) the greater perceived offense against our own sense of self dissenting opinions are.

Added to that it is often simply easier to demonize those who disagree with us. Actually learning where they are coming from is work with no guarantee of reward, and so we have more incentive to just go with the easy way.
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