Friday, October 21, 2016

Opinions and Human Nature

It seems that by human nature we tend to HAVE opinions rather then acquire them. 

Despite all the information that the digital age provides us access to, many seem to have preconceived notions of things first, then we seek about information that supports our position, rather than doing research first, and then forming an opinion.

For example, I ran into a friend (Jamie) at a bar one night in New York City. It was during the G.W. Bush presidency when the foreign view of America was at an all time low.  

We segued into a discussion about the French where she said that they are very opinionated, highly pretentious, and she highly disregarded any opinions they had.

From the time I had spent n the south of France in 2001-2002, my opinion of the French was very different. I found them to be very friendly and helpful towards me dispute my terrible 7th grade French language skills. Moreover, it seemed to me that they had a really nice way of life; calm, relaxing, and they seemed to take the time to enjoy whatever they were doing at the moment: even if it was having a cup of coffee with friends, they sat, had their coffee in nice cups with a sweet on the side and seemed to savor the moment -- which could last 30 minutes or more, There was no rushing about.  

She however was adamant in her position. 

So I asked her, where were you in France, and what were your experiences there to have this opinion?

"Oh, well, I've never been there," she said. 

When I then inquired, "So how can you have such a strong opinion about France and its people if you've never been there?"

"It's just my opinion" she replied. 

On another occasion I was surfing through YouTube videos where I came across the trailer for James Cameron's "The Lost Tomb of Christ. What struck me was a comment on the video that exclaimed:

We don't need a documentary to tell us the truth of Christ, we've known the truth for 2000 years and no facts will change that.
 "No facts will change that" he wrote. Whether the tomb was real or archaeological fantasy is besides the point. The idea that no facts will change one's opinion is the essence of the opening remarks I made.

As a final example of the point, I had posted this statement on a forum that revolved around some story about transsexuals. The response was fierce, frantic, and assaulting. As that thread developed, the conversation segued into gay rights. in each case I simply posted facts as I uncovered them, which were always met with someones opinion of the content. Finally I was challenged to show where I got these facts. So I made a list of the resources I had researched, including Discovery, journals, and other published papers by credible sources.

But the one thing I came across that caught my attention was a letter an anti-gay women exchanged with a leader of the anti-gay rights movement. She noted that she had gay neighbors, who she got along with fine. But she said that in a causal conversation with them expressed that "it isn't natural." Their response was that homosexuality existed in the animal kingdom at about the same rate it existed in human society.

So she recounted this in her letter, asking
"Is this true? And if so, what other ammunition can you provide to support my position?"

It would seem to me that when the facts don't support your opinion, you should reevaluate your opinion and research further. Clearly that is not what occured.

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