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  1. #1
    The Eighth Colour Octarine's Avatar
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    Default On opinion and being wrong

    I recently watched a talk by self-styled “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz, 'On Being Wrong' from March 2011.

    Now the talk itself is disappointing as she doesn't really explain the bio-psycho-social basis for opinion forming. She merely assumes that people do so and they are not always aware that they are doing so. Apparently most people don't wish to accept that they might be wrong as it might upset their ego. But they should accept the fact that they are often likely to be wrong and not consider it to be a personal failing. But I thought this would be a good time to start a thread about opinion.

    Now an opinion is defined by the Collins Dictionary as 1. judgment or belief not founded on certainty or proof.

    However, philosophers have repeatedly shown that there is no firm demarcation, or even a definite link between 'certainty' 'proof' and likelihood. Hence all strongly held views are either tautologically true, or opinions.

    But why is it that people are compelled to form strongly held views based on mere speculation?
    One of the reasons for following the news provided by an interviewee in 'Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News' was that they'd have something to talk about at work. This leads to the question, are we socially obliged to form opinions?
    But that still doesn't explain why is it that people often feel that their (current) point of view is the only point of view worth considering. But they have forgotten how their opinion has evolved over time?

    It can be fun and or constructive to speculate and hypothesise and debate, but this is a far cry from committing to these speculation as some sort of concrete view.

    Why is there stigma about changing your mind or lacking commitment to your speculations? It is true that lacking commitment leads to less trust by others of those speculations. But the whole concept of an opinion or speculation is that others should not base their decisions based on them.

    I suggest one of the reasons why 'being wrong' hurts is not so much about the importance of having 'correct opinions', but rather the fact that 'being wrong' leads to bad decision making. This has detrimental consequences and of course that can be fatal if you happen to be someone in a position of power. The result is valuing 'being right' but without necessarily testing our views empirically. Neverthless, many of our decisions are regularly tested and hence the consequences of being wrong is a regular aspect of the human condition.
    But there can be other issues, perhaps societal expectations about competence and acceptance of mistakes can lead to depression in those who are not comfortable with the apparent contradiction?
    There are also political implications. How responsible are the leaders of organisations for their mistakes? Mistakes that have real consequences for thousands of people.
    Last edited by Octarine; 05-27-2011 at 08:14 PM.

  2. #2
    resonance entropie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    Now the talk itself is disappointing as she doesn't really explain the bio-psycho-social basis for opinion forming. She merely assumes that people do so and they are not always aware that they are doing so. Apparently most people don't wish to accept that they might be wrong as it might upset their ego. But they should accept the fact that they are often likely to be wrong and not consider it to be a personal failing. But I thought this would be a good time to start a thread about opinion.
    Like that very much cause it describes the last state I want to achieve in my life, the one in which I know that I know nothing. It is my goal to be like that in life, it's not easy and I am not there yet, emotions or thoughts sometimes still get the better of me but maybe when I get older, some day sitting in a rocking chair smoking the cigar and telling the young that I know nothing and they will do too
    [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBvftJUwDw&t=0s[/URL]

  3. #3
    Junior Member John01's Avatar
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    Interesting topic and one I have thought a lot about recently.

    I am more and more growing to be open about my opinions and more willing to listen to differing views. I have changed so many opinions throughout my life due to the acquisition of new knowledge and perspective introduced by others. I certainly think it's good to develop judgements based on knowledge and experience, but to hold to opinions without wanting to learn about alternate viewpoints is foolish to me.

    I wonder if having an opinion helps us feel more a part of certain groups. Perhaps it satisfies a desire to belong. Or it gives us a feeling of being secure in this world. I can't tell you how many people I know who have very strong opinions (for which they might even give their lives) that were acquired purely by listening to their parents, church or immediate cultural surroundings. They have never even heard arguments against their beliefs. Not only have they not heard alternatives, they are unwilling to out of fear. There must be some feeling of security and safety in clinging to these opinions.

    I frequent an INTJ forum, and I notice people continually arguing and debating, not from a standpoint of wanting to learn about and consider another viewpoint, but just for the sake of being right and winning the argument (I have been guilty of this myself at times). At least, this is my own perception of the events. Whether or not ego is a factor in opinion forming or not, I don't know. But it sure seems like a factor in opinion defending.

    Thanks for the link.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Little_Sticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John01 View Post
    Whether or not ego is a factor in opinion forming or not, I don't know. But it sure seems like a factor in opinion defending.
    I guess it depends on how you define ego. But by Jung (MBTI?), the two are supposed to be one and the same because consciousness is the formation of an opinion of reality?

  5. #5
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    I really hate that about the way things work. You seem to have to know everything to be respected. Nobody is always right, so the people most respected are the liars.

    The best way to become a better person is to admit that you're wrong and redress your mistakes. That's a sure way to be humbled, which contrary to popular opinion, is a good thing.

  6. #6
    The Eighth Colour Octarine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Sticks View Post
    I guess it depends on how you define ego. But by Jung (MBTI?), the two are supposed to be one and the same because consciousness is the formation of an opinion of reality?
    I would say that without a concept of ego, it is pretty hard to have a personal opinion.

  7. #7
    Junior Member John01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Sticks View Post
    I guess it depends on how you define ego. But by Jung (MBTI?), the two are supposed to be one and the same because consciousness is the formation of an opinion of reality?
    I was using the word ego in the sense of the idea of self-importance. Based on the context of the sentence below, that's how I concluded it was being used by the OP. If you want to use it in the Jungean sense, it would be how a person views his/herself (as I understand it).

    I understood the main point to be that a person's view of his/herself would be brought low by the revelation of being proven wrong about his/her opinion. Humbled, if you will.

    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    Apparently most people don't wish to accept that they might be wrong as it might upset their ego.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Icarus's Avatar
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    Rule #1 - Never, ever, ever, admit you were wrong. :P
    "I am the one who knocks."

    <3 Hyacinth

  9. #9
    Senior Member Saslou's Avatar
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    Maybe i don't care so much for my ego then as i have no problem admitting i'm wrong if thats the case as in order to grow as a human being, i can't 'know' everything and don't proclaim to either.
    “I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower, you hung all your associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see—and I don't.”
    ― Georgia O'Keeffe

  10. #10
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Smile Reframing

    The other day I admitted I was wrong on Central. I did this without disturbing my ego by reframing MBTI. I reframed MBTI from a personality test to an etribal flag, and so I was able to admit I was wrong to attack MBTI just as I would be wrong to attack the Australian flag.

    I felt I had worked myself into a dead end as a critic of MBTI on Central, and so rather than recanting, I poped out at the top in a completely new frame of reference where it would be silly to criticise MBTI.

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