Know Enough to Have an Opinion
I recently read an article on a blog that I found very intriguing. It is titled "The Work Required to Have an Opinion" and can be found on fs.blog.
The article outlines the idea that we shouldn't hold a particular view on a subject until we know the arguments of those who hold the opposite view better than they do.
That is a lot of work!
In today's world, there are many examples of people holding opinions when they haven't done the work. We tend to grab onto a meme or a sound bite and assume that is right, especially if it hews close to our opinions on other, somewhat-related things. We get stuck in silos with like minded folks who reinforce our ideas, and we then reinforce their ideas and before you know it, we are in cycle of ignorance that comes from being uninformed. This is called confirmation bias- we seek out ideas that support the thoughts we believe to be true. The tough part is that being uninformed is easy, especially when those close to us agree.
Shortcuts are appealing.
Every issue out there has multiple sides and the ways in which it can be viewed are as varied as there are people viewing it. Looking at an issue from multiple angles can often shake the foundation we stand on and make us question our own decisions, especially if we look at our past. While no one wants to be seen flip-flopping on issues, holding on to a position simply because it seemed right 10 years ago will stunt personal growth. Generally, acting as if the other side is right and looking into the salient points of their argument will serve as a course correction on our opinion. Very few things in this world are dichotomous, the things that have no obvious right or wrong should be spun around.
We all should look at issues from as many sides as possible. It will likely soften our stance on things, perhaps bring us to a middle ground and it will certainly limit the absolutes that we see in the world. Rather than staying ignorant and devolving to the lowest common denominator, we might actually start to rise to the occasion. Doing the work required to have an opinion will make us better informed, which will lead to better decision making, which is a virtuous cycle of intelligence. And it might help all of us work together a little more.