The other night I had a front row seat of what amounted to a display of biases. It was late in the evening and I was tired; ergo, I did not contribute to the discussion. I’m not sure how beneficial my participation would have been, given my tiredness and the fact that my biases did not align with those in the conversation. Though I was tired, I still found myself amused at the whole display of what amounted to personal opinion and nothing that could be proven to be technically superior. In fact, one particular bias could be proven to be inferior but I digress. The evening proceeded along these lines. One of the speakers had recently purchased a device and someone had asked him how he liked it. Wrong question. The one asked, Person A, gushed freely. Part of his move involved a transition to new software. It wasn’t just Person A. Persons B and C were equal sympathizers in the discussion. I, if I would have spoken, would have been the lone dissenting voice, so I remained silent. But I literally was getting sick to my stomach over the whole thing. It is only a piece of metal and glass. There was no real objectivity raised or fair comparisons made. Somehow, to me this knowledge added a sense of blind fan rabidity in the effusive praise of the object.
The conversation moved on to the subject of grad gifts. While this was equally fascinating to observe from my spot on the sidelines, the entire conversation was a spouting of personal views. While these views varied, a few actually had sound reasons attached to them. But this was only intermission; round 2 was coming.
It proved to be a doozy. Somehow the conversation turned to a piece of machinery and how that piece originated. One of the participants, whose family has a business interest in these devices, raised a protest against what the others said. But, though it interested him, his argument was weak. He hadn’t studied it sufficiently to argue effectively. He had a passionate response but his lack of knowledge compromised his argument. After watching with interest, I left for my bunk. It was past midnight; maybe that explains part the reason why the conversations went the way they did.
Yet the whole thing had proven to be an educating experience. Foremost in my mind was this question Why do we cling to an opinion without fairly portraying the opposing view? Or hold on to it when faced with contrary evidence?
I like to think I’m fairly unbiased. I’d also like to think that when presented with new information, I’m open to changing my mind. Yet I know the human tendency to see any new information as being an personal attack. That is how we tend to see these things. We also tend to view accepting new knowledge as exposing our own deficiency and lack of knowledge. Either way we don’t like the feelings we get from having to change our opinions so we resist. Though the entire exchange was entertaining and informative, it reveals how easy conflicts can potentially arise.
Of course, all of the above is just my opinion of something I recently observed. Now about me and my opinion about opinions. Something disturbing that I find in myself in relation to this subject of opinions is I find I am a little relativistic. What this does for myself is it causes me not to stand as firm as I should on matters that are more than just opinion. It’s fine for the other person to believe what they do as long as I can keep my opinion. That last sentence is relativism in a nutshell. In a way, it is intellectual protection yet I don’t like it. On certain matters a grounded defense is needed. On opinions such as I witnessed what someone once said comes to mind. “People all have two opinions and sometimes they stink. So live with it.” I put that last sentence on ‘cuz what are you going to do? Present your opinion sans an argument?
Great men still abound. Almost invariably, every time secular society finds them, they write about them. Here is a link about such a person. This is something I can appreciate. A man teaching young men how to be men and being involved in their lives. May his kind continue!
Oh, and before I run off to class, I’m posting this as well. Pray for the remaining Boston bomber suspect. He needs it. Care to dispute? Click here and read prior to arguing that he doesn’t deserve prayer. Now, I’m off to class.