Opinion and Entitlement


I don’t quite believe “everyone is entitled to their own opinion”. The dictionary definition of the term is “a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge” which, in a sense, yes, believe what you want to believe. I suppose I do not agree with the statement when it is used to end an argument where one party is clearly wrong.

When is an “opinion” wrong? I don’t care for people’s secretly held opinions – perhaps someone is convinced that the moon is larger than the Earth, perhaps they believe a certain genre of music is better than another – as long as this opinion isn’t being forced on others or harming anyone, it’s fine. But if your opinion is that classical music is superior to all other forms of noise and decide to blast it for your entire suburb to listen to, relentlessly, without seeking the opinion or permission of others – even if the intention was pure, the action is wrong. Also, please do not teach others to believe that the moon is bigger than the Earth. Educate yourself, please.

However, things like musical preferences, the existence of God, and other types of philosophical debate do not have a “right” answer. These are topics that have been debated for thousands of years, so a difference of opinion is alright in this scenario. However, the reason does not lie in people having a personal preference for a certain belief – it is because the opinion can be argued for, and the argument cannot be refuted quite so easily.

Opinions that are based on easily refutable facts, on pseudoscience, or on faulty logic are clearly wrong. Your “opinion” does not mean you can ignore all the evidence for global warming or vaccinations. Your “opinion” is barely an opinion if it is based only on one source of information or your feelings. Your “opinion” does not have the same weight as facts, and should not be used to influence your actions – they should only lead you to search for arguments that support it and refute it. This can be done through personal research or through conversations with people with better knowledge on the subject matter. Only once you have more than one side of the story can you confidently say you have an opinion worth sharing.

I say this for both popular and unpopular opinions.

Look at your opinions skeptically. Why do you have this opinion? Why do others disagree with it? What about it is so un/appealing to certain groups? Why should this opinion be a part of my person?

Being able to answer these questions should at least dispel some of the backlash you get for holding an unpopular opinion.

Even in science there needs to remain a sense of skepticism. Commonly believed scientific opinions can be proven wrong with advancements in our knowledge and technology. The model of the atom, which we learnt to be some pudding model or other in high school, was completely changed to the quantum physics model in university. People did not believe the lymphatic system went anywhere near the brain, but we recently discovered that it actually passes through the brain. Once the facts change, the opinions should change along with it. Stubbornly held beliefs and ostentatiously flaunted opinions do not become correct just because you believe in it.

Are we entitled to our own opinions? Probably, yes, in a society free from thought police. But if you want to share those opinions with others, get ready to be challenged. You are not entitled to voice your opinion unquestioned, and “everyone’s entitled to their own opinion” is not a strong enough defense for your position on your high horse.


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