Opinion Is Dead

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When I was much younger, like an undergrad, I’d go out with friends for maybe a pizza and the discussion would be enjoined.  We’d argue this way and that, about one view or another.  We’d argue on and on until the pizza was long gone and bedtime or study time was upon us. Few feelings were hurt by the other. After all, it was just opinions shot back and forth. 


The critical value of an opinion is in its flux of belief. It can or could be changed.


Today, it’s different. When venturing onto websites of columnists, especially those of contributors, opinions are no longer changeable.  They are fixed, hardened, even cast as metal. Modern students are about the same, most with cast-iron views, not to be changed by anyone, any way, anyhow.

The point here is you can’t call it an opinion unless you can cite something that someone can do or say to change it.  It rare we see this. What is slapped down on the page is not opinion but absolute truth in the mind of the contributor. 


Opinions are dead. Nowadays, the irrefutable position is taken. If history needs a bit of revision to support, that’s ok.  If vague words such as “civilized” are needed, that’s ok. If the occasional white lie is needed, that’s ok.  But never, ever, change the position. In legal terms, it’s become a swearing match.


Even actual science has been infected with this incurable malady, say with cosmology, now almost a pure theory with hardy a chance of resolution by testing. In politics, particularly in the USA, studies have shown there is hardly anyone on the left or the right that associates with someone of the opposite persuasion. Self-validation is in.


Mustafa Kemal Added Jul 6, 2018 - 3:28pm
Don, excellent, timely and  very relevant post.
You  have a very good point upon which i would like to expand.
re:"What is slapped down on the page is not opinion but absolute truth in the mind of the contributor. "
Moreover, they often state it as if it is/(should be) accepted as truth in the mind of the reader, even when there are strong counterarguments against it. (This is my opinion and I can support its validity.)
So, in this sense, they are not admitting that they are expressing an opinion, and misrepresenting their opinion as fact or truth.  This is disengenuous.
Jeff Michka Added Jul 6, 2018 - 3:50pm
Mustafa:  "they are expressing an opinion and misrepresenting their opinion as fact or truth."  And if yonobody can "say anything Bu ask for cites, you NEVER get them, and usually get a ration of abuse for not "accepting" their so-called truths as fact.  Funny, bt this same ilk all want the ability to block and silence others, particularly those that find their opinions degrading or offensive, but "Nobody can think badly of my opinions or question them, it "ruins  their perfect articles, regardless of how devoid of truth or facts the articles are.  A good example was an admittedly proud Trumpist wrote an article on "The evils of Obamacare" that contained not one word of truth or a fact, written as the author wanted people to believe Obama was still president.  When confronted on the article's deception, he got angry and insulting, stopped answering people and thankfully disappeared a short time later.  The same person defended the batshit crazy "idea" that Michele Obama was a transsexual, explaining it the reason why Obama wanted gay marriage and LGBTQ rights, of course.  Cites?  Never.  It was more "suspend disbelief, this is a fact."
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Jul 6, 2018 - 4:13pm
"Self-validation is in.
Should we let others do our thinking for us?
Don Allen Added Jul 6, 2018 - 6:39pm
WB is one of those rare conversations where all agree to disagree, though not always gently. However, the wide variation of commentary does make it a valuable sounding board.  Some get swept away, but even that is OK.
wsucram15 Added Jul 6, 2018 - 7:05pm
I guess so..
I used to get called a conservative liberal..because most of my friends are Republicans.  We have had those pizza or dinner discussions of which you speak over the years many times.  There is one couple that is liberal in this group and my BF is really more of an independent voter. Usually we all end laughing the evening away over something silly someone said and going our separate ways.
But we always take this stuff in jest.  The current situation makes the arguments stronger and more bold, but they are intellectual arguments..never below the belt and always with merit.
Well...most of the time, lol.
Ryan Messano Added Jul 6, 2018 - 7:42pm
Don, there is an informed opinion, and an uninformed opinion.  The latter is what the 65 million who voted for Hillary have, and all the WB males have.  It makes their opinion worthless, and their vote dangerous.
An opinion is only as valuable as the virtue and wisdom present in the life of the person who possesses it.
Don Allen Added Jul 6, 2018 - 8:05pm
The folks who voted for Hillary come from multiple viewpoints.
a. Those who felt it was the time for a woman. (I know some)
b. Those who vote automatically democrat. (Millions)
c. Those who distrust or dislike Trump.(Millions)
d. Those who thought to vote for a continuation of Obama. (Millions)
e. Those who agreed with one particular plank of the platform. (Millions)
f. And more and more.  
Likewise for the opposite - also with the "millions" tag.  I'm not sure about these opinions, informed, uninformed, or ill-informed.  In my experience, very few can articulate any reasons for doing anything in more than 25 words.  I know, this gives little depth to most voters.  Many rely on intuition. 
We do live within a "talking points nation" with the "gotcha" news dissecting the grammar and even word selection.  Or anyway our politicians do. 
In fact, many of us rely on intuition as a powerful problem solving tool.  It should not to be underestimated.  It is our principle tool for almost everything before we learn language.  It is supremely the tool from which most of our greatest theories have been derived. 
Ryan Messano Added Jul 6, 2018 - 8:24pm
I agree Don,
I'd also like to add that three factors that weren't around in the days of 1787 when the Constitution was written are pornography, drugs, and television, and that these three factors are severely impairing the reasoning and critical thinking skills of Americans. 
One or more of three factors are true of every male voter who voted for Hillary, and some of these are true of Trump voters as well.
1) Porn user, or has some form of sex outside of marriage
2) On psychotropic drugs.  70 million Americans are on psychotropic drugs.
3) Has never read five biographies of the Founders of America or the Federalist Papers and is clueless about what the Founders were like or what they envisioned.
Bill H. Added Jul 6, 2018 - 11:11pm
Don -
Welcome to the digital brain dead "I'll Google that" world!
No thought or logic process required.
Enjoy the ride!!
Ryan Messano Added Jul 7, 2018 - 12:19am
Bill, wow, didn’t know you were that attuned to yourself.
Bill H. Added Jul 7, 2018 - 12:44am
Amazing, Isn't it!
I actually helped invent it back in '74.
Now I am having second thoughts.
I still to this day remember Intel 8080 machine code.
Ryan Messano Added Jul 7, 2018 - 1:20am
It’s good you are having second thoughts, the internet and hellivision have made the world a good deal dumber.
Mustafa Kemal Added Jul 7, 2018 - 1:46am
Bill H.
re:"I actually helped invent it back in '74."
Maybe someday you might elaborate? I would be interested hear.
Mustafa Kemal Added Jul 7, 2018 - 2:01am
Bill H.
I cut my teeth on the IBM 360. Above the card reader at Cornell University in 1975 was a sign that read
Line Limit 1000
It was not funny
Stone-Eater Added Jul 7, 2018 - 6:36am
Not for no reason I refuse to use the word "truth".
opher goodwin Added Jul 7, 2018 - 7:11am
Don - an excellent post. We used to do the same. We had heated discussion in depth about everything under the sun. We would argue and listen and learn.
Now it is tribalism set in stone.
opher goodwin Added Jul 7, 2018 - 7:16am
WB is an interesting site. I have found it possible to have long discussions with some people who I radically disagree with, to exchange intelligent views back and forth and find some common agreement. Most of the time one merely receives stereotyped knee-jerk reactions from people so set in stone they are unable to weigh up any argument.
Then you get the childish rants from the unintelligent and brainwashed religious nutcases.
It can be frustrating and it can be rewarding.
Stone-Eater Added Jul 7, 2018 - 8:39am
It's a digital mirror of life.
Dino Manalis Added Jul 7, 2018 - 8:41am
 Opinion is alive and should be welcome, don't call it fake news!
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Jul 7, 2018 - 12:10pm
"Most of the time one merely receives stereotyped knee-jerk reactions from people so set in stone they are unable to weigh up any argument."
But none of your views and comments are proscribed by your own comments. You must be wildly objective and rare. 
opher goodwin Added Jul 7, 2018 - 12:48pm
Stone - my life has a range of people most of whom are capable of intelligent debate. There are some here on this site but not that many.
opher goodwin Added Jul 7, 2018 - 12:49pm
rycK - I must be, mustn't I?
opher goodwin Added Jul 7, 2018 - 12:50pm
Dino - opinion is fine. Fake news is putting crap as fact.
Bill H. Added Jul 7, 2018 - 1:02pm
Mustafa - I worked on modifications to the original Altair 8800 that included power supply enhancements and interfacing early analog to digital converters to both the Altair 8800 and the Imsai 8080 for research projects conducted by Colorado State University and several contractors working with NOAA. I also worked on several designs for S-100 memory cards, and a text to speech card for the Apple II+ computer to mention a few. I wrote quite a few machine language and BASIC programs that were used to monitor remote sensing equipment and helped design early RF data links to transmit remote data over long distances using RF modems.
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Jul 7, 2018 - 1:28pm
"rycK - I must be, mustn't I?"
Certainly not. Merely a broken record reshuffling stale cliches.
opher goodwin Added Jul 7, 2018 - 5:51pm
rycK - LOL - a horse by any other name would be led to drink water just as the seagulls follow the trawler and the stitch in time melts on Dali's clock.
Mustafa Kemal Added Jul 8, 2018 - 11:01am
Bill H. That sounds like it must have been real interesting, and near good Wyoming and Colorado fishing to boot.  I have always thought proper investment in hardware gates was a good path, but it sounds like you got in at a vibrant and exciting/rewarding time.  Sounded fun.

Thanks for sharing
Mustafa Kemal Added Jul 8, 2018 - 11:05am
Don, I think it says alot about WB how little interest there was in your actual post.
 Moreover, it could be instructive to look through the comments in light of your post. 
Don Allen Added Jul 8, 2018 - 9:48pm
Muftafa, Most probably correct.
Ari Silverstein Added Jul 9, 2018 - 1:33pm
People’s positions on political matters are no harder or softer than they’ve always been.  Or do you possess a device that can measure the level of hardness of our respective beliefs?
When you argue among friends you make every effort not to let the argument get out of hand.  That was true in the past and it’s true today.  When you argue among non-friends you care a lot less about what people think. Ditto.  So to the assertion that things are different today, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. 
The point here is that opinions are alive and well, except for one new benefit: Since the dawn of the internet we are now able to express our opinions more easily.  Not to mention the fact, we can more easily stay vocal about what we believe without adversely affecting our friendships. 
Mustafa Kemal Added Jul 9, 2018 - 2:01pm
re:"Since the dawn of the internet we are now able to express our opinions more easily.  Not to mention the fact, we can more easily stay vocal about what we believe without adversely affecting our friendships. "
We can also do it with more vitriol and not have out teeth knocked out.
Bill H. Added Jul 9, 2018 - 11:03pm
Mustafa - computer technology was fun and rewarding during the early years until Microsoft took control. Early versions of Windows at least allowed the user to customize and eliminate things. Now we have no control whatsoever, as Microsoft assumes most user are total idiots (which sadly may not be too far from the truth).
Kurt Bresler Added Jul 10, 2018 - 12:52am
Everybody starts with a thought which works it's way into some Opinion then turns into a deliberation with self as one figures how to turn his or her opinion into FACT or at Least Somewhat convincing or in the case of SOME  FAKE News.   But anyone writing an opinion these days has already developed it past the opinion stage and into somewhat of a tiny thesis... upon which the writer will stake his life.. at least until he or she realizes that harmartia within, that fatal flaw which brings the entire post crumbling.
Don Allen Added Jul 10, 2018 - 10:04am
With the Internet, and the slow-motion of commentary, we must say yes, the opinion first forms, then ferments, then calcifies, and finally emerges as a full-blown immutable thesis.
The Internet also allows potshots, the modern day BB gun of refutation.  At some of these opinion sites, you will see the number of contributions (potshots)  made by various authors running into the tens of thousands.  Well beyond the old-time pizzeria of discourse.
Ward Tipton Added Jul 13, 2018 - 10:35pm
Linux Rocks! Rocks break windows. Coincidence? 
Did anyone else here have an IBM "green card" for data dumps? Box after box of dot-matrix paper, 23 inches wide ... 01010101 00101101 ... when the boxes like that came home at night, the Do Not Disturb signs went up and the coffee pot went on overtime. 
Don Allen Added Jul 14, 2018 - 10:46am
In fact, I grew up on Unix, the great uncle of Linux.  There was a Unix type set of routines for DOS, but Windows surpassed it.  The attitude of Microsoft has always been profit first, crush the opponents, our customers must adjust. They created the famous blue screen, the curse of all developers.  Remember the old joke, when Gates chided Ford for such slow auto development, and Ford said if we followed Microsoft's model, our cars would crash three times before lunch.  
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Jul 14, 2018 - 2:03pm
"rycK - LOL - a horse by any other name would be led to drink water just as the seagulls follow the trawler and the stitch in time melts on Dali's clock."
Sounds like a sound recipe for eternal socialism: just recite the proffered dogma until you believe it yourself. A socialist by any other name can be trained to be a loyal lackey.