If I do or don’t believe in something and my justification consists of “because that’s just my opinion,” there isn’t much credibility to my view. One can’t expect to plead their case without substantial evidence and expect to excel in a rational debate. Everyone may be entitled to an opinion, but not every opinion is entitled to respect. If an opinion fails to be supported with logical reasoning, even if empirically unproven, that opinion is void of integrity and ultimately means nothing more than predisposed biases.
Someone who knows little to nothing about politics should not expect their opinion(s) to fair well in a logically driven and rationally reasonable debate about politics with someone who does. The former can express their opinion(s), but their position would be less favorable in terms of validity and credibility.
That being said, how do we differentiate between objective and subjective opinions? I’ve devised two categories, each with several examples of objective and subjective perspectives:
-Your opinion is based on indisputable facts.
- 1 + 1 = 2
- The winning team did not lose.
- Statistically, Japanese students are generally better than U.S. students on International Mathematics Assessments (James Harper).
-Your opinion is not influenced by your personal biases/feelings.
- I love my girlfriend, but I rate her a 7 out of 10 in overall looks.
- I don’t like scary movies, but this horror film deserves the acclaim it’s received.
- I’m not a Democrat, but I agree with a lot of the Democrat’s views.
-Your opinion is open-minded and rational.
- Not all immigrants are to blame for murders; U.S. citizens commit murders too.
- I’m straight and would only marry the opposite sex, but gays should be entitled to marriage as well.
- Just because we think something is right doesn’t mean the rest of the world is wrong, and vice versa.
-Your opinion is not supported by any undisputed facts.
- Whites are more successful than blacks (vice versa).
- Men are smarter than women (vice versa).
- Rich people are happier than middle class people (vice versa).
-Your opinion is influenced by your personal biases/feelings.
- I’m Italian, so Italian food is the best.
- That movie sucked because I don’t like comedies.
- I love my girlfriend, so I rate her looks a 10.
-Your opinion is closed-minded and irrational.
- Most terrorists are from the middle east, so we should nuke all those countries.
- I’m a Republican, so I only agree with far-right views, whether they’re reasonable or not.
- He killed that woman, so I hate his family as well.
Being objective is a reflection of speaking the truth through integrity and without the intention to deceive or fuel the ego, such as prioritizing yourself by trying to ‘win’ an argument for personal satisfaction. Furthermore, it’s the ability to formulate opinions through rational thinking and logical reasoning. Think of it as a combination and process of the Socratic (questioning/reasoning) and Scientific (validating/disproving) methods.
It is simple to detect the difference between rational and irrational arguments:
- He deserves the death penalty because I hate him.
- I hate him, but he deserves a fair trial.
- I don’t like her, so I’m never going to agree with anything she says, even if she’s right.
- I don’t like her, but I’m still going to respect and be open minded about what she says.
Another example would be:
- Black Hawk Down is my favorite war movie of all-time, but based on the standards of the genre and the merits by which they’re critiqued, Saving Private Ryan is a better overall war movie.
“Are you listening or are you just waiting for your turn to talk?” – Robert Montgomery
This also applies to those who protest or rally for change, but just scream, riot, and conduct themselves in reckless, uncivilized behavior. Who is actually listening? What points are being made? It’s just noise with no substance. Hypocrisy, or ‘eye for an eye’, is a byproduct of ignorance and primitive human nature.
“Before you act, listen.
Before you react, think.
Before you spend, earn.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.”
– William Arthur Ward
The same holds true regarding movies, video games, books, etc. The degree of one’s objectivity boils down to their degree of knowledge, experience, and being able to emphasize “less of them” and more of “what is”; the ability to separate oneself from his/her personal feelings, biases, preferences, and beliefs. It requires practice, educating yourself, whether through external sources or via introspection/reflection to overcome debilitating characteristics; rewiring your mentality to enhance overall awareness and perspectives.
As I’ve said earlier, everyone may be entitled to an opinion, but not all opinions are entitled to a rational debate. In fact, arguments are often a result of simple miscommunication, misunderstanding, and egoism. It’s fine to disagree, but doing so with diplomacy, not disrespect. The ability to maintain composure, focus, and perspective. Being a master of your thoughts and emotions, not a slave to them; more listening than talking and more reflecting than reacting.
“A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.”
– Rita Mae Brown
Progressive communication is integral to an advanced Type 1 civilization. This could possibly be achieved through mindfulness and technological advancements (such as neural/social augmentations and gene therapy) – an advanced future generation of human beings who genuinely value and understand how to communicate and live among one another peacefully and progressively.
Photo Credit: Ryan Somma/FlickrCC