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Just my opinion…

It has been said that opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has one, but it’s not acceptable to go around sticking yours in other people’s faces.

This is all very well, but as far as I’ve noticed no one seems to have a really high regard of their rectum, get it out at parties, and then, when it goes unappreciated say “hey, it’s just my arsehole. You gotta live with it”.  This doesn’t happen to me often, and I’ve never really felt the urge to do it myself. It is, perhaps, a poor analogy, in that sense.

Someone’s views make up an important part on their personality. Many people define themselves by them.  I wish they would be less loud though.

I know I can hardly talk, me with my whole internet waffle stream here, but  people seem to think anybody wants their opinion on anything. Frankly I don’t care that you don’t like my t-shirt, or which book-to-film adaptation was least shit, or what the recent discovery of a new subatomic particle will mean for the financial markets of East Asia. Goddammit. Are you an expert in the field of t-shirt design?! Well are you?!

“It’s just opinion” is one of the most annoying things to hear in a conversation. Seriously.  If the person who said it really believed it, you probably wouldn’t get to a point where they needed to say it.  Them saying it assumes that all opinions are equal and should be heard equally, but that they are all equally irrelevant. No food is better than others. No music. No films. McDonalds is on the same level as Michel Roux. Mozart with Muse. I find that hard to swallow. It’s worse when it is simply, plainly, objectively (and I mean this without the ambiguity I have brought to it in previous discussions) wrong.  You can prove something is wrong scientifically. You can almost prove something is right. With established theories it is not down to personal opinions on the evidence what the conclusion is: It is down to reasoning, and reasons. They might be overturned at any point by new evidence, but the facts aren’t subjective. It is not my opinion that evolution works. There are thousands of reasons to believe it does, and none to believe it doesn’t.  It is not my opinion homeopathy doesn’t work. Many fair clinical trials have shown it does no better than placebo. Why do people think it’s ok just to say, “It’s my opinion”, and think that makes their ridiculous indefensible statement right?

I think the idea that everyone’s opinion is equally valid is ridiculous (and I understand the irony in me making statement like that). I will trust an expert on a subject more than I would trust pretty much anyone else.  On an academic subject, be it science or sociology, they will have spent far more time studying that subject, they will know more interpretations of it, they will probably have done research on it, and they will know the vast set of situations that their knowledge applies to far better than some kid in his room (hi). Personal examples are almost unilaterally irrelevant in an argument (the main situation when they’re not are absolutes. The statement “all French people eat snails and love it” is very easily contradicted by your mate Francois who doesn’t. The statement “most French people eat snails and love it” is far harder to argue against without evidence. Incidentally, I know nothing about French people’s attitudes to snails.).

In terms of the arts, or entertainment, or whatever you want to describe them as, I will trust a critic’s judgement of quality far higher than I would an imdb rating. There are a lot of stupid people in the world. This is well demonstrated by the inexplicable popularity of Transformers and whatever autotuned nonsense is in vogue right now. Of course, you have to form your own opinions rather than just mirroring others, but it makes sense to listen to someone who has a wide experience and knowledge of a subject to get a view on what is “good” or not. Rather than some moron who likes shit blowing up.  Now, I should be clear. I differentiate between people’s personal tastes and how people view the quality of a thing. Something can be good, and you not like it. I enjoyed Highlander, but I know it was a bad film. I didn’t enjoy There Will Be Blood at all, but I could see it was beautifully shot and very well acted (Please don’t use this as a cross-section on my ability to judge films. I like some good films I promise).  Can quality be objective? Can you describe something as objectively better? I’m not sure. But I know that taste and quality are not something to get mixed up in a discussion.

I think my final point links to everything I have already said.  The use of reasoning. You can make unqualified statements if you want, but they will be meaningless to anyone else without justification. Do you believe something?  Do you like something? Why? By explaining yourself there’s a chance of sharing this with others, and of them agreeing with you.  Man, I might even respect your high opinion of  Transformers.  It is your opinion, and it doesn’t need to be justified to anyone, or indeed told to anyone. But if you must get it out, let them know why you think that.

And for God’s sake, don’t have the wrong opinion.

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