Friday, April 25, 2008

Opinionatism

It is becoming increasingly hard for me to tolerate “opinionatism”, or to adhere to it. And for the last while I started wondering if the state I thought to be “temporary” might be slowly settling into a permanent state.

It happens like this: the more loud opinionated a person is, the more attentive I become to the darkness surrounding them; the areas in which differing views, arguments and "versions" of truth exist. I stop being receptive of the person speaking, and listen to all else.

I wonder why people assume that opinions make them stronger. The way I see it, firm opinions limit the vast possibilities into one temporal shock of light that is blinding and is soon to vanish or even harm like lightning would.

Is it like this: we pass a driving test by following the rules of the book, but survive the life by following the rules of others who share the road? Does it come down to this: we pass our schools, colleges, and higher education, by learning the diversity of life, but survive life by portraying the singularity of ourselves?

7 comments:

Murtadha said...

Great Topic Aysha
i think opinionatism come from taking the argument that we make too personal.. our problem is that we don't distance our self from our beliefs and opinions.
i took rationality course last fall,and i learned from it that people always seek for anything that confirm their own ideology and belief...
in the same time, they hate anything that may at any extent disconfirm their previous beliefs
this problem become obvious in a closed society like ours where differences ( in opinion and beliefs )are prohibited. ,
this year, i am choosing to be an observer instead of assessor or judger.. i divided my self into two contradictory persons so that i can distance one from another.
whenever i am asked about my religion (Islam ) or my country ( Saudi), i always start answer with a pronoun ( they ) instead of the pronoun ( we)
bex i dont wanna my judgement, my thinking, and my understanding to be limited and bias on a specific religious or social values.

i hope that i am not talking about something unrelated to your topic :))
sometimes,unconsciously, i mixed between things

Saudi in US said...

Good topic Aysha

Opinions are important for a persons sense of balance. The issue is the quantity and quality of such. Opinionated people feel they have to take a position on every topic they encounter. This forces them to form opinions without the benefit of examining all the information that can be available to them. Further, they may lock themselves in and feel obligated to defend them.

This is certainly an issue for many young adults (and not exclusive of course). I used to have an opinion on everything under the sun in my early college days :) It was in my late 20's that I became wise enough to understand the error in forming opinions without a due process. I started to re-examine my positions on many topics. I even became comfortable with the fact that a person does not have to form an opinion when non is required.

Murtadah, I think you have a very good process. It is good to be an observer, because it will let you examine information in an unbiased way. Once you have enough info you may decide to take more firm positions without all the early pressure.

frogman said...

having conversations with opinionated people is always uncomfortable and mind numbing. however, i don't believe that having more than a few opinions should be mixed with being opinionated... reading your post and both the comments, i took a step back and looked at myself.. I think i am a man of many opinions, i don't always share them, but i still have them, but they are never carved in stone.

all of you have a point that it is good to take your time before forming an opinion but its not always that easy..

and like saudi in us said, martadha i like your approach to the subject.. very very clever..

Aysha said...

murtadha,
I am regretting having not taken similar courses (eg. rationality). I know it's not always the class itself, but the discussion it generates, and the readiness we approach the class with that make us grow and benefit. I admire how you take the "practice" beyond classes and books.
"people always seek for anything that confirm their own ideology and belief" *how true...
Thank you so much Murtadha!

Aysha said...

Saudi in US,
You are ver precise in your wording. I respect that in a writer, because it makes life easy for everyone (eg. "Opinionated people feel they have to take a position on every topic they encounter. This forces them to form opinions without the benefit of examining all the information that can be available to them. Further, they may lock themselves in and feel obligated to defend them.")
I have realized from your comments as well as frogman's that I confused the two "having an opinion" and being "opinionated"-not only in writing actually, but while pondering on the issue too.
In regards to young adults being opinionated, how true! I think it's some sort of a defense system, which goes back to your idea of "opinion as a mean of balance". Young adults, while so many things in their emotions, life and physique going out of balance, opinionatism might come in as a securing and balancing factor.

Aysha said...

frogman,
I did notice that "analytical" factor about you through the posts in your blog. Almost like, the go through it all in my head first.
I like this part "I think, i am a man of many opinions, i don't always share them, but i still have them, but they are never carved in stone."
* just notice the "I think I am". Isn't it wonderful to be at peace that we aren't god when it comes to knowing ourselves?
Thank you so much frogman!

Saudi in US said...

Aysha,
Thanks for the kind words.
Just to continue on this interesting dialog.
This may sound like an odd request. But it may help to take a piece of paper and draw an x and y quadrants.
It is helpful to think about opinions using the white to black analogy. Where items that fall in the black are ones that we know are facts, whether positive or negative. Items that fall in the white area are ones that we do not have enough info on to make any better judgment than a 50/50 tossup. Almost all opinions fall in the gray area in the middle. Wise people will usually only voice opinions for items that fall in the dark gray or black areas. On the x quadrant black will be to the right as high degree of certainty.
Now back to the sense of balance comment. It is important for humans to have a set of opinions about the world to make life manageable. I will illustrate this with an example. If a person did not believe to a very high degree of certainty that gravity exists, he/she will not be able to get out of bed and venture by stepping onto nothingness. This is true not just for physical phenomena’s, but also to philosophical believes.
We also can introduce another quadrant to this argument. This quadrant can be our need to reach a conclusion/opinion on a topic. Similarly, we can use black as a must know and white as the ones we do not care about. For example, if I was to vote tomorrow, having an opinion about the candidates will be a strong gray requirement, while the existence of unicorns will be a solid white. We can use the y quadrant for importance of forming opinions with black on top.
At this point you have a model for managing believes/opinions. If you place all the issues that you need to form opinions on within the graph, the focus should be on the ones on the top area of the graph with the goal of moving them from left to right through investigation (i.e. focus on improving knowledge on important issues). This is called Magic Quadrant analysis, where the Magic Quadrant is the top right quarter of the graph (made famous by Gartner Corporation for technology analysis).
I would not get into a lengthy debate of opinions unless the item of discussion is in the Magic Quadrant (i.e. it is important and I know enough about it to have confidence). Opinionated people will argue everything regardless of the position within the graph.
One final note, before you think I am off the deep end on this, I do not really keep a graph like this at home. I just use this modeling technique to keep a mental picture of where I am on knowledge about specific topics I am interested in.
On a side note, I heard the news Fouad Al Farhan release today and it made my day. I hope we hear good news about Hadeel soon. Keep on praying for her.