Saturday, January 07, 2012

<h1>Opinions Are Like...Well...Opinions</h1>

Everybody’s got an opinion. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, dare I say, that not only should everyone have their own opinion, but they should be proud to voice it and articulate it. However, there is a difference between fact and opinion. For instance, if I hold a ball in my hand and let it go, it will drop to the ground. That’s gravity. It’s a fact. There’s nothing I can do to change that. It’s not based on my perception, my position in life or even on my previous experience of letting balls go. (…phrasing) That’s a solid fact, so much of a fact, that we call it a law. The law of gravity. Now take for instance the statement: “MF Doom makes good music.” Now we have an opinion. You see that varies from person to person. That’s not a law. I can think of multiple people who don’t like MF Doom, and I can respect that. In fact, I can even understand why they don’t like him. He’s really not for everyone. I enjoy him because of how intricate his rhyme schemes are, and how dedicated he is to keeping them that way. His “punchlines” are hidden within a complex rhyme scheme. I dig that. I also understand it’s not easy to listen to.

However, my understanding someone else’s opinion, even if I don’t hold it, isn’t what validates the opinion. The person validates it. Which says everything that should be said about opinions. If all it takes is one person to validate an opinion, how much value can an opinion really have? I’ll answer that question with another question: if you have a million dollars, would you consider yourself rich if EVERYONE else had a million dollars? Your answer is probably yes. Funny thing about the economy though. If everyone had a million dollars, the value of the dollar would be much lower. That’s kind of how value works. Well, every human alive has an opinion. Which means it’s really not worth much. Those individual opinions might mean a lot to each individual person, but in the grand scheme of things, opinions have no real merit or intrinsic value.

Remember how I said at the beginning that everyone should be proud to voice and articulate their opinions? I firmly believe that, particularly if you come to that opinion through some means of research or life experience. If you feel that Domino’s is the best pizza ever, because they treated you well, or maybe because you’ve actually sat down and taste tested all the other available brands of pizza and for some reason you found Domino’s superior, you can climb to a rooftop and shout It until you’re hoarse and blue in the face. But guess what? It’s still just an opinion, and at the end of the day, whether a billion people agree with you, or no one does, it’s still just an opinion. You can’t add any more value to it, just as no one can take any value away from it. My disagreeing with your opinion doesn’t detract from the value of it or the person who holds it. I just don’t agree. It happens.
That having been said, I’ve found, in my opinion, that there’s no real reason to debate over opinions. Nothing can be gained from it. I can understand debating over facts, the validity of scientific studies, and so forth, but opinions? Not really worth it. And I’m not saying that I feel the practice of dialectics isn’t beneficiary, but the pure practice of that form of reasoning involves the two participants to argue both sides, not to stick stubbornly to one side emotionally. I suppose, in the spirit of fairness, one can postulate that theories are really just opinions masquerading as facts, but in the cases of theories (well…good theories at least) they can be tested, either through experimentation or observation. How does one test that a rapper is better than another? How does one determine that Beethoven’s 9th was better than his first or his second symphonies? Sure we can say, that in our opinion that the 9th was better because of the emotion it conveys, or how he bent the constraints of his era to convey that emotion, but I’m pretty sure that it’s entirely subjective. Somewhere there’s a person how hears that symphony and thinks, “Not feeling it, B.” And that’s okay. You’re going to have some people like that. By the same token, there are people who hear a song or artist that I find appalling and they defend it to the death. Fine. Let them have their opinions. You see if we all just accept that we have differing opinions and that debating over them is pointless, the world would be a better place. And isn’t that ultimately more important than proving that what we think is “right”?