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Are all opinions equally valuable?

Jamie Barrows

Meerkat


First off, this entire post is just my opinion. Now that we got that out of the way, I can begin my little rant.

Are all opinions equally valuable? This isn’t a politically correct or popular question to ask these days.
In the Web 2.0 world, every blog, news site, and search engine is filled with people posting their opinions on everything under the sun. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. The freedom to post and publish your own opinions and viewpoints is one of the very best things about the Internet. No longer are we tied to a few elite columnists and reporters for our news and analysis. But the ability to post does not necessarily mean you have the knowledge to contribute meaningfully to a topic.

The overall consensus in both the political world and the Internet world seems to be that all opinions are equally valuable. I think this is somehow an extension of the post modern idea that all positions, even contradictory ones, are equally true. But as I posted in a previous post, that is simply impossible and not rational. But lets get back to the opinions question.

Are some opinions more valuable than others? I would have to say yes. You might say that that is not really all that controversial. After all, that is why we get the opinions of experts. Who would you go to for opinions on law? Lawyers. And for opinions on health, you would go to doctors. So we can all agree that some opinions are more valuable that others. And the thing that makes them more valuable is knowledge and experience.

But if there are valuable opinions, then why can’t there be worthless opinions? While it isn’t popular to say so, I believe that opinions by people who do not know the history and facts of a situation are useless and worthless. Not just less valuable than those of experts. I mean worthless. If a person does not know anything about what he/she is giving an opinion on, then there opinion is useless.

Does this mean that I think that only the opinions of experts are useful? No, but I do think that voicing an opinion without first learning the facts about it is pointless. Far too many people simply parrot the sound bytes of politicians and news reporters without ever finding out the facts for themselves.

In this day there is no excuse for that. Nearly all the facts and history about almost anything are online. Anyone can read those facts, if they just put a little effort into finding them. So it’s just not that hard to be informed and knowledgeable about something. And that is all you really need to have a valid and useful opinion rather than a worthless and pointless opinion.
So do your opinions fall into the valuable group, or the worthless group?


5 Responses to “Are all opinions equally valuable?”

  • Alexander Says:

    Jamie,
    this topic is rather complex – or rather simple.
    Simple, because the answer to your top question most people would say: no, there are opinions I prefer and others that I don’t estimate so much. So, for me, they are more or less valuable.
    That’s simple. That’s everyday life.

    Complex is this discussion if you talk about opinion’s value in an “absolute” sense or about “useless”, “worthless” in a general way.
    I think for himself everybody can define some statement as useless. For several and individual reasons. Why not – if you consider it like this?!

    But to designate an opinion or a statement in general (!) in such an absolute manner for me wouldn’t seem right, because you never know for which other person there might be what kind of value.
    Even if you take the opinion of a “parrot”, an opinion you have already heard several times in exactly the same manner – for another person it’s new, or a good reminder.
    So, in general, I couldn’t say it.
    For myself I can decide (or “feel”) it.

    And even if the uttering person is not very much knowing or very intellectual, there can result some good ideas. In german there is a known proverb: “children and crackpots tell the truth”. In project management there is some concept to ask people that don’t know the subject at all, to find (probably) new and interesting solutions. So knowledge and literacy are not in any case imperatively needed for fruitful contributions.

    From the philosophical point of view the question if it’s more or less valuable or if it is really worthless is interesting!
    But in daily life for me it’s enough to see that it is under a certain level. How deep it is then, if “low” or “zero”, for me is not so very important. I try to engage me in something more valuable, try to find the next peak – more than defining the bottom.

    I hope this contribution wasn’t too worthless…

  • Jamie Barrows Says:

    The view being “parroted” may be a valid and perfectly good view. Your right in that the statement may not necessarily be wrong, simply because the person who is stating it is ignorant.
    The problem is that I don’t think anyone can trust that opinion, or give any credence to it, because the source is ignorant of the situation and facts surrounding it. The only way that opinion might be useful to me or anyone else, is as a reminder. And that assumes that you or I have heard it before from a source we can trust.
    I think the point I was trying to make in this post, is this. Before setting yourself in any particular camp, and before shouting your opinion on an issue to others, you should make sure you know the facts about the situation. Shouting out your opinion about an issue, when you are ignorant of the facts of that issue, does nothing but show your ignorance.

    Of course, you realize that this entire post is just my opinion. Which may be just as worthless as anyone else’s opinions.

  • Alexander Says:

    Probably even someones “ignorant” oppinion is useful, because it gives you the opportunity to give a good comment. So you could help on the “ignorant” person and/or other listeners.
    Probably a very well informed person isn’t honest and is retaining certain aspects for certain purposes.

    Rating the (whole) value of an opinion for me is a real complex affair.

    In any case you are very right that every person should view his/her own view about the topic before “molesting” the environment with some utterances. It’s (also) a matter of personality and character.

    Of course your post is your opinion. And I consider it worthful to think and discuss about that :-)

  • Darrell Says:

    These sentiments sound vaguely familiar…

  • Jamie Barrows Says:

    Hmm, I wonder why………

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