Written by Ferret_of_Doom
Preface by corporationpaintball: The past posting of this was removed because it was primarily used for trolling, this new thread will remain closed. However, if you have any questions regarding this thread please PM a forum Mod.
Moderation of Beliefs and the Difference Between Opinion and Fact...
Before I begin this short essay, I would like to go over why this sort of thing is written. In the world of academic writing, there is a situation
(what the whole ordeal is about), an assertion
(primary statement or problem) and a response
(what I am now writing).
I am seeing lots of problem with the lack of moderation of beliefs and the lack of knowledge of the difference between opinion and fact. I am writing this for a few reasons—when people get these things wrong, it only causes problems to arise, as well as it pisses me off greatly. So without further ado…
Moderating Your Beliefs…
Believe it or not, society is like a human being. It can’t take too much of a bad thing without getting sick and rejecting it. Why then, do people feel the need to assume that anything they happen to disagree with is the most horrid abomination to ever crawl society?
I think this stems from the need to justify our own positions. If you feel insecure about your position on a topic, you strive to create definite boundary lines so that you and others can see your stance on an issue. However, many people overdo this. They assume that to appear to take a negative stance on something, they need extreme vocabulary and offensive opinions. Anyone who is comfortable with his or her stance doesn’t feel the need to do this.
For example, if I feel that I like a certain presidential candidate but don’t have any personal reasoning behind this, I can also see that the best way to convince myself and others of my feigned firmness on an issue is to bombard all other positions with constant attack.
Why does this cause problems, you ask? Simply put, arguments become a battle over rehashed insults, rehashed stereotypes, and rehashed “idiot-level” argumentation, rather than a discussion where we can learn and respect each other’s opinions (see the next section).
What is the solution, then? The solution is simple—knock it off! Instead of constructing a valid argument against something, you would rather assume that a stance taken by many other people is completely invalid and throw a slew of foolhardy comments at it. This only flags you as someone who doesn’t have a valid argument, as well as someone who is so insecure about their position that they need to fake their power through this sort of “smack talk” argumentation.
If we can stop this bull****, admit that the other side’s opinion is just as valid as ours, and have a discussion from there, we can all learn something in a peaceful and easy manner.
The Difference Between Facts and Opinions…
Another problem I am seeing is people stating their rash opinions as fact. This creates problems in the sense that often times, people don’t know if they are saying what they are saying as opinion, or trying to pass it off as fact.
Webster defines a “fact” as “a piece of information presented as having objective reality”, and defines an “opinion” as “a belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge”. What do these things mean? Fact is something that can be backed up by reason. Reasons are simply an arrangement of facts that leads to a conclusion. Notice that opinion plays NO role in this. Opinion is something that cannot be touched by fact—it is purely dependent on someone’s view. If something is a true opinion, it can never be argued against by facts or reasoning.
So we know what each is, but what is the problem? The problem is people confusing the two. The problems arise when people think that their personal opinions are fact. These people get into the delusion that their personal position is more valid that someone else’s. This is a big problem.
For example, calling Bush an “idiot” is an opinion. Calling Bush the “president” is a fact. When you confuse the two, people don’t know what you are saying is personal opinion and what you are trying to pass off as fact.
How do we fix this? Outline which is which.
Example: “Bush is an idiot, he has done nothing to help the world!” (Attempting to pass opinion as fact)
Step 1: “In my opinion, Bush is an idiot and has done nothing to help the world.” (Acknowledging your opinions and that someone else’s opinion is valid)
Step 2: “In my opinion, Bush is an idiot because he [reasoning, reasoning, reasoning] and has done nothing to help the world.” (Stating your opinion, but also showing that it goes beyond opinion and into the realm of reasoning by backing it up with facts)
The simple fact of the matter is that these two things go hand in hand—by accepting other’s opinions and realizing the difference between your own opinions and reality, we can all gain a clearer perspective of what is going on. People tend to snap less when you give them space to exercise opinions. After all, why should someone listen to your opinion if you won’t listen to his or hers?