Opinions and Certainty

I’ve been hearing for a very long time, and it seems to be increasing, or perhaps the change in my own perspective makes it appear more prominent … the expression of opinions by people, which go beyond the scope of what it would be possible for them to say with certainty, especially given their lack of specialist and contextual information.

Perhaps you’re familiar with this scenario:

  • You mention a handful of incomplete details as a brief summary of something;
  • Then without hesitation nor asking a single question, you find yourself the subject of a barrage of critique;
  • You attempt to point out the fact they’re lacking critical information, but they talk over you;
  • You attempt to point out the inherent and unproven assumptions in their statements, they won’t let you;
  • You ask a key question in return to demonstrate they cannot answer a critical piece of information which is logically essential to proving their own case … and again, you’re blocked from doing so.

So, why do people form such vehemently held views on subjects about which they know little or nothing at all?

I don’t know if it’s just insecurity, and the desire not to look stupid by not knowing something, or being incorrect … but whatever the motivation, it’s irrational and stupid.

Here’s the thing:

  • If you want to say “everyone has a right to their opinion”, that’s fine;
  • If you want to say “all opinions are equally valid”, that’s just plain wrong.

An opinion is stated in a context, and the thing to do is to state what that specific context is.

For example: if I were to say “I know this to be true”, then you’re claiming certainty, thus you have to be able to justify your claim of certainty; if on the other hand you say “I think this may be possible or probable”, now you’re being more honest. The key is, restrict the domain (context) of your claim to what you can actually prove. No one can complain if you admit your own uncertainty by talking about possibility and probability, but the moment you venture into certainty, you’ve gotta be able to back it up.

The next problem we encounter however, is that of brainwashing, indoctrination, delusion and misunderstanding … where people believe they can back something up, but they cannot see the flaws in their own logic, as they’ve been convinced of the absoluteness of things that are either incomplete, inaccurate, limited in scope, or wholly untrue.

Similarly, people may also not understand your evidence, but fail to understand their own failure of understanding … often times this is because they’re so busy reacting to something which contradicts their existing belief, they’ve actually failed to properly listen … and many is the time I’ve listened to &/or watched someone do this, asked them questions which confirmed the case, and then still not been able to get them to put aside their own bias to hear an opposing argument.

Why am I writing this?

For those in the audience of my writing who believe various things about this project which fly in the face of all logic, reason & evidence to the contrary … I’ve heard from several of you … fortunately you’re in the minority, because you’re annoying as the smell of shit and the persistence of blowflies.

Not one of you has yet presented a single credible argument against my work, yet occasionally I have to deal with another arrogant fuck whom believes their scientifically illiterate appraisal of the small part of the information I’ve actually published, is cause to doubt with certainty the merit of what I’m claiming … but what you fail to realise, is you’re not the only person in the audience, some of those know me personally and know way more than I’ve published, and of them are a small number of academics (including PhD candidates) whom either agree with or have contributed to the work. So you just look like an idiot to them for what you’re saying (which is your call if that’s how you want to be seen).

Also, if you honestly cannot conceive of a single reason why I might be cautious about publishing more than I’ve done … well that’s just being naive … it makes you sound like someone who was born yesterday (or thinks I was, to be so easily suckered). Try that on someone else, it will never fly with me, no matter who says it, but least of all someone like you.

Acceptable criticism?

The most acceptable criticism is always USEFUL, and more than merely acceptable, I quite welcome it (to the contrary of your own views about my response to critique). So if you’re finding my reaction to what you say in some way unpalatable, I’ve got some suggestions:

  1. Try asking and querying with an open mind before you critique;
  2. Try actually reading thoroughly and contemplating things, so that it isn’t so damn obvious how biased you are, and how little effort you put in before simply acting with the agenda to confirm your own bias;
  3. Try not stating with such certainty that your opinion formed over 5 minutes to 5 months, somehow trumps a 25 year long obsession INCLUDING the lending of established science and knowledge dating back hundreds and in some cases possibly over a thousand years old;

… none of this is rocket science, it’s just basic communication 101.

Most of all, remember this: plenty of people know me as someone willing to change my views … they’re smarter than you, better educated than you, wiser and more articulate than you … so when they present me with contrary viewpoints, I have a chance of accepting it, because it isn’t ignorance and stupidity presented by a semi-literate ignoramus.

If you don’t like that … it ain’t my problem.

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