On Opinions

Why This Matters | Samantha Lish | October 26, 2015

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Written by Gracie Peters

When we are in elementary school, we are taught the differences between “facts” and “opinions.” We learn that facts are indisputable, and that opinions are judgments formed about things that may not necessarily be based on knowledge. This oxymoronic article, then, is going to be an opinion about why opinions don’t always matter.

Wait, that sounds harsh. Of course opinions matter! Well, some opinions matter. Good opinions matter. Informed opinions matter. People are also passionate about certain things because of their religious views, their cultural practices, and their deeply-held personal, moral, and ethical beliefs. These opinions are all kosher and fine and well and good. However, bad opinions do not fall under this umbrella category. Bad opinions are opinions that people have without a good reason. For example, Donald Trump’s opinion that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive” (???) is a bad opinion. This is a bad opinion because it has been disproven by a lot of factual evidence that states that global warming is a real thing that is actually happening.

A bad opinion is an uninformed opinion. An uninformed opinion is ignorance. Ignorance is generally not a good thing. The only way to combat ignorance is with knowledge, education, and, well, facts. A lot of the time, though, ignorant people do not want to hear facts. And this seemingly very simple concept is one that is tearing the United States apart. Whether it’s about gun control, women’s rights, or racism, there will always be bad opinions. And a lot of bad opinions are rooted in tradition. The only way to cure the infectious and rampant disease of the uninformed opinion is to present the bad opinion-holder with information that explains why that person’s opinion is bad. But no one wants to hear that they’re wrong. No one likes being wrong because it is embarrassing. It’s embarrassing to seem stupid or uninformed. However, it’s even more embarrassing to be uninformed and then spout your uninformed opinions everywhere.

So, the next time you get into an intellectual discussion or a debate with someone, do some research. If you don’t want to do research or if you don’t have time, then admit to the other person that you aren’t well-versed in that topic and you don’t want to say anything that you’re unsure about. It is rarely a good idea to pretend that you know what you’re talking about. Ignorance is not bliss, and knowledge truly is power (clichés on clichés). Everyone is entitled to their opinion – as long as it is a good, informed, educated, knowledgeable opinion.