In the age of political correctness and relativism, we are often led to believe that all opinions have equal value.
Some are right, some are wrong and most are somewhere in-between.
We do ourselves and our culture a disservice by accepting the opinion that fried eggs are covertly running our planet has equal value to the rational opinion of an expert that is grounded in research and fact. We have limited bandwidth and attention span. We don’t have time to listen to every opinion; the prudent person wants to give his or her attention to opinions of value.
Discernment is the ability to judge the validity of an opinion or argument. I hate to sound old and curmudgeonly, but I think discernment is becoming a lost art.
Opinions of value and worthy of our consideration are grounded in fact and not only emotion. They are thought-out which is to say the holder of the opinion has done the hard work of thinking about what he or she believes. No opinion is free of personal perspective but good opinions have considered their counter-points and are honest about any validity found in an opposing view.
Opinion slinging today seems more built on volume and categorization. Unpopular opinions are shouted down and categorized as “evil” or “hateful” when often they are simply “opposed.”
I find some of my best food for thought in the contrary opinions of others. I recently blogged about Bobby Knight and my conclusion is different today because I listened to someone with a different opinion and different information than I had. I did not know that Bobby Knight believed only a few of his players were bound for the pros so his objective was to prepare them for success in life, not just basketball. I was unaware of his emphasis on academic excellence. While I still disagree with some of his behavior, I have a new respect for the coach. My opinion changed because of an opposing but valid opinion.
Some of the hardest work I do is to consider the opposing opinions of others. When I’m lazy, I dismiss them. When I’m at my best I consider them. But I save my mental energy for those who have informed opinions well-thought-out and grounded in reality.
That’s what makes an opinion valuable.