Watching Our Opinions

There is a wonderful list at Overcoming Bias about “Opinion Warning Signs” (I was made aware of this list by the always interesting and relevant Kottke).  Upon reading through the list a couple of times, I feel that everyone can benefit from considering these 20 points. 

Here is the thing, as opinionated beings (and I think all humans are) I think that at times we are all guilty of some of these shortfalls listed. However, being made aware of them there are a number of things that we can do both for ourselves and others.

First, and foremost, we can evaluate our own opinions considering these points.  I am not suggesting that we carry this list around with us, but that when we do form and state a strong opinion, that we take a moment to carefully consider it and ask ourselves, honestly, “why do I believe this?”  I admit, this is not as easy as it sounds.  Being introspective and at times questioning our own opinions, ideas, and beliefs can be both very scary and very challenging.  however, I think it is important and healthy, and people who can pull it off are the individuals who display great potential and personal growth.

Second, we should hold the opinions of others to tight standards, and ask serious questions when they are demonstrating some of the points on the above list. I am not saying that we have to be fascist police about any of this, but more suggesting that when we notice people making statements that do some of the things on the list we should raise a fair question and objection to the legitimacy of the statement.  In the age of the Internet and mass communications, opinions fly around like crazy and we are constantly being bombarded by them.  It is important, as we are exposed to other people’s ideas, opinions, and beliefs, that we hold high standards to what we are allowing to influence and persuade us.   Failure to do so may ultimately compromise our own decision-making ability.

I’ll repeat, we can all be guilty of the pitfalls listed by Overcoming Bias.  As opinionated beings humans are very capable of bias, fallacious arguments, and fits of reactionary impassioned rhetoric that really does not support any argument or point.  It happens, but it can be minimized if we are willing to hold personal and public standards.  Also, if we are willing to be patient, take time, and really think about the things we are saying or that others are saying.

Note:  I fully include myself in the guilty party of poor opinions and bias at times.  In the four years and over 900 post on this blog I am sure I have offered quite a few, but I am willing to re-examine any of them and re-state or re-evaluate where necessary.

~ by Nathaniel on September 29, 2010.

One Response to “Watching Our Opinions”

  1. […] It may be very useful for others, but since I have never been wrong it does not really apply for me LOL Amplify’d from […]

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