Opinions - do yours stand up to scrutiny?
|Warning: opinions ahead|
I have a new description for myself: an opinion farmer.
Basically, my crop is opinions and I grow a lot of them. Not all of them are worth selling on the market. Some opinions I grow turn out to be duds, whereas others might become the ones that win prizes at the local fair.
Earlier this week I grew one of those dud opinions. I won’t bore you with the details but there was a news story I saw which prompted a knee-jerk reaction from me.
Now, not being as stupid as I look, rather than rail against it online, I emailed a clever mate of mine (Steve, for those of you playing at home) giving this opinion of mine and asking for his feedback as to whether it was valid.
Well, I didn’t have to wait long.
Steve emailed me back shooting down this newly-formed opinion in cascading fireballs. Seriously, it was like a crime scene. There were opinion-shaped limbs everywhere, and an opinion-shaped chalk outline on the street.
In other words, this opinion didn’t stand up to scrutiny. As such, it needed to be destroyed and replaced by a better one. You could almost say that it was opinion natural selection at work.
It made me think though, is this common? How many of us out there actually look to see if our opinions stand up to scrutiny?
Let’s be honest, it’s hardly a pleasant experience to hear someone say that the view your espousing is wrong. But not all things that are helpful are also pleasant. Sometimes the most helpful things can be pretty damn painful – like working out at the gym (no pain, no gain).
I reckon people don’t seek feedback on their opinions very often. Rather than looking to expand our own excellence, the temptation is to throw our information out into the void as if we’re the ones educating the rest of humanity.
|Richard Dawkins isn't often keen to |
'discuss' his opinions
Look at folk like Richard Dawkins or Andrew Bolt. You’ll never see them actually put up one of their ideas as something to be rationally discussed. Rather, their ideas and opinions are (apparently) there to be marvelled at and not engaged with critically.
But perhaps there’s a second application here. How broad is the landscape of opinions you subject yourself too.
If you’re only buying all your opinions at the same store, it probably means that some will be good and some will be bad. But by broadening your network, maybe you can source opinions from all over the world and get one of those fabled collections that people write books about.
Yes, I’ve carried the metaphor too far but the point remains. I reckon putting up your own opinions to a bit of impartial scrutiny is a good use of time.
Because if you don’t, then you could end up looking like me earlier today – a little dumb.