Why do people think opinions are relevant?
I was talking to someone recently about free will (ugh, I know. Can’t I sing any other tunes?). I was talking about research and little experiments that are interesting but don’t necessarily PROVE anything. My intention wasn’t to prove something, as if I were capable of doing that, just have a conversation. But what I was saying was based on data/studies. The philosophizing can come afterwards, based on some sort of truth/information and fun wild speculation. And maybe the conversation will spark some new insight and I’ll have grown, intellectually, because of it. After I finished talking about a few of the results that make me question what sort of free will exists, if any, he said “The way I feel, I don’t think anything is as strong as my free will.”
Basically, that’s the end. There’s nothing more to talk about. He can think whatever he likes. He can, in the face of overwhelming data, decide to believe anything he wants. Evolution isn’t true. The world is a square. He’s Jesse James reincarnated. We actually live on the moon but some optical illusion prevents us from observing it. Which makes the moon square as well as the earth. He can go through life satisfied with his answers. But he wasn’t simply claiming that he would believe in free will no matter what, he was going on as if his belief in it made it real. As if his belief is evidence supporting the belief.
Opinions don’t deserve respect. You can have any opinion you like but that doesn’t mean it is valid. If you bring creationism into my EVE 100 lecture hall, I will laugh at you. For some reason this is controversial. But it’s plain to see when looking at extreme positions. I hope you don’t respect people with beliefs that some races are superior or one of the sexes is.
And I’m not laughing at you because I think you’re wrong. I’m wrong more often than not. Most ideas will be wrong. There’s nothing to laugh at there (except in lighthearted ways. ie – the way I laugh at my friends, and they laugh at me). But if astronomers, physicists and the like, come to a general consensus about the approximate age of the universe you can’t chime in with, “Well I have my own ideas that I will be teaching my fourth grade class.” without some sort of incredible new evidence. If you do say that to me, I will laugh at you because there’s nothing else to do. You aren’t asking for a conversation. You have no evidence to produce. You have a belief, which is fine, but it makes for a terribly boring conversation partner.
Random extrapolating time.
This causes a lot of problems in politics. It works the same way as the internet.
Exchanging ideas through debate and open dialogues or in comment sections and message boards? Beautiful. Shouting opinions at each other without worrying about evidence or logic? Welcome to politics and the internet. There are a million other reasons for this inability to communicate well (especially on the internet, anonymity anyone?) and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out others were more important than this one. Just a thought.
Btw my favorite condescending rejoinder:
Your view’s the kind that needs strong glasses.
OOOOOOOH, NOIR BURN!