Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Opinion is Dominated by Suspect Communication, Poor Thinking Skills

If an utterance is "just" an opinion -- not, for example, a reasoned argument or the product of critical thinking -- it is bad at a minimum, but worse, usually has bad consequences.  Opinions are useless.  Think how humiliating it would be to call anything that you have invested time and effort toward an opinion.  And yet opinions abound.  Are we under the illusion that others cannot see that these are opinions.  Sure, there are those who are fooled by opinions, but there are those who are not.

An opinion, that cannot be lifted by evidence to the level of a supported view, is a trivial, but damaging, missile, launched from a platform of garbled communication.  The Obamacare "debate" and the illusion of fiscal responsibility in government are two battlegrounds for which the air is filled with these missiles, mostly armed with stink bomb warheads.  Two of the stink bombs are: people have a right to health care (we can't even decide what a right is, but in no event is it a thing which can be doled out by government), and it would be fiscally irresponsible to provide health care for everyone (which begs the question of when government was ever fiscally responsible).

As I think about this problem, I don't see it as a tight topic for one column.  In a way, all of my writings are about this cognitive disconnect.  At the heart of the disconnect seems to be the modern idea that having an opinion is a positive happenstance.  The motto seems to be, if you can't know something then the next best thing is to have an opinion.  We also labor under the misconception of a beast called an "informed" opinion -- sometimes an informed opinion is built on someone else's informed opinion, which in likelihood is an uninformed opinion.  How much -- and what type of -- information would push the needle beyond "informed" on the knowledge meter.

Incomplete knowledge and opinion are two different things.  An opinion is an attempt to negate the passage of events, a denial of time.  An opinion is often based on a snapshot of known things, but it is very seldom updated with new data.  And often people will resort to violence rather than going to the trouble of gathering new data.  I site the bogus confederate flag controversy in my native South as a persistent example.

Why wouldn't a voluntaryist, finding himself in a state of incomplete knowledge, voluntarily pursue enough knowledge to be able to dispense with opinion to dwell rather in the realm of likelihood for the nearest future?

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