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"That's just your opinion!"
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Posted 9/23/13 , edited 9/27/13
There are two common phrases in the context of a discussion that consistently make me want to commit mass genocide on the human population: "That's just your opinion!" and the closely related "Everyone has different tastes." It always makes me want to start a post of about the length of what will follow, but I usually decide that it would be better as a topic, and that I don't usually feel like making a topic -- but now I do.

People usually state these phrases as though they are so obviously true that we can all assume that whatever follows can't be argued against. After years of quiet lurking and raging blood pressure, I'm finally ready to call this bullshit. Were I to speak my mind, I'd call you all many different sorts of mean names and degrade you with insults, but I'll (try to) keep the discussion civil today -- I'll cut to my main point:

Opinions are always either right or wrong, every opinion can be criticized, and as a corollary, every opinion on the quality of music, anime, games, carpet texture, and seafood preference is a matter of truth. As far as truth of a statement is concerned, I make no distinction between "matters of fact" and "matters of opinion" -- any statement of either is a statement open to criticism.

The only way that I know to make claims against the argument that I'm about to make is to claim that nothing exists outside of yourself (the standard "brain in a jar" argument). I'm fine with that, I'll accept that, and if you're right then I'm fully aware that I'm wrong. Logically speaking, your argument is as good as mine. However, I'm going to assume that all my perceptions, thoughts, and everything that I think I am exists in some form or another. I don't think my opinion is any better than yours, but there are plenty of places to argue in depth, and the arguments are pretty well known anyway -- I don't want to argue it here. So, I'll assume there does exist a "something," and I can in fact refer to something when I say the word "anime," for instance. For those of you that can accept this assumption, read on. For those of you that can't, I don't care about you -- you don't exist anyway.
_________________________

First I'll look at the idea that an opinion can't be true or false on the basis that it's "just your opinion." Take this:

"I think that 2+2=4"

Words refer to ideas, and once we establish which ideas are referred to by the words "2," "+," "=," and "4," we can establish without any doubt the truth of the statement "2+2=4." This means that, to establish the truth of the "opinion" above, we need only define "I," think," and possibly "that", and find out if I do indeed think that 2+2=4. Either I think it or I don't, and 2+2 either equals 4 or it doesn't. So on what grounds is my opinion not right or wrong? My point is not to argue whether or not 2+2=4 (an interesting, but unrelated topic). I want to ask the people that accept statements like "2+2=4" or "Chihayafuru sold over 4 million copies" as verifiable statements, and then go on to dismiss anything like "the color blue is the best color" or "Chihayfuru sucks" (It doesn't). Why is "that's just a fact" not a valid counterpoint, but "that's just your opinion" is?

Don't think that blue is the best color? Fine, but give your reasons. Having an opinion means making conclusions based on what you know. What do you know? You know what you're talking about when you say "blue," and you know what you mean when you say that something is "the best." And if you don't, then you're just a jackass that's using words he doesn't understand -- shut up. If we know what "the color blue" is, and we know what "the best" is, then we need only figure out if "the color blue" and "the best color" are the same thing. Done. And if they're not the same thing, then the statement is false. If there's differences between valid opinions, then I propose that it's a difference in definitions. Especially in the case of anime, they're probably defining "best" or "good" differently.

But that doesn't suddenly mean that nobody is right or wrong when two people claim that two different shows are "the best", it just means that they're talking about different things. When someone says "Cowboy Bebop sucks," saying "that's just your opinion" is not a valid counterpoint. "Define 'sucks' " is a valid counterpoint. "I don't understand what the hell you're talking about" is a valid counterpoint. Any opinion is objectively verifiable once you know what's being claimed. When you say "everything is subjective," all I hear is "I don't understand or care what you're talking about, because once we agree on what 'good' is, I can be objectively wrong." Everything is subjective until you make it into an objective problem.

I can see the argument that it's impossible to truly understand exactly what someone means when they talk about the concept of "suckitude," but that doesn't make the statement "Chihayafuru sucks" any less true or false. Even if we can't figure it out, it's still right or wrong. I claim that anyone that thinks otherwise can't argue anything meaningfully; because when you work through the logic, every statistic, thought, experience, perception, statement, and claim is an opinion: even "I'm on my computer right now." And if you think that's verifiable, then why isn't "my computer is awesome"?
_________________________

Finally, I'll just pick one more bone. It's slightly related, but I won't argue with anyone that disagrees with me. I don't have the time. However, it's bothered me enough that I want to at least let people know that there is a reasonable alternative to "everyone has different taste." If we were talking about an alien race, I might agree. However, the more I learn about the brain, the more I hear people talk about things, and the more I look at the way people think about things, the more I'm convinced that everyone wants the same things. Everyone's brains work on the same basic principles -- they use the same chemicals, the same physical building blocks, and the same patterns for eliciting the same "emotions."

True, what one person finds exciting, another may find boring. However, I claim that it is only a matter of experience and understanding that produces this difference. I claim that anytime someone feels an emotion (or possibly even thought) it's because something important to them is happening. EVERYONE has a taste for things that are important. It's not that "taste" itself differs between people, but that "refinement" in that taste differs between people. If "thought" occurred through some mechanism other than the brain, or the brain worked on different principles, then I'd be wrong. Of course, this could be the case. I've not yet heard of anyone that completely understands the brain, and until we do, I have no idea whether I'm right. But all the trends that I see in current scientific discoveries tells me that, in all probability, everyone's brains work basically the same. It's not something that I have the willpower to argue thoroughly, but it is something I find worth stating. At any rate, my only point is that I don't believe "everyone has different taste" to be an obviously true assumption, and I tend to ignore most conclusions based on the assumption.

Edit: There's been enough confusion on terminology that I've decided to post the definitions that I am using for a lot of the key terms. Keep in mind that these may not be defined in the same way that they're used in forums and with your buddies -- mostly because I'm used to reading about them in a philosophical context. Naturally then, that's the context that I would think of first when using it.

An opinion is a belief or judgement held by a person.

An objective statement is one whose validity relies on an object. That is, it relies upon physical reality. Take away the "stuff" in the universe and you've taken away objective reality. A fact is a statement on reality, and a true statement is one whose contents describe reality. As such, "Europe exists" is a true objective fact, and "Europe doesn't exist" is a false objective fact.

A subjective statement is one whose validity relies on the subject, or if you like, you can think of it as the mind. Take away the subject, and you've taken away subjective reality. "1+1=2" is an example of a true subjective fact and "1+1=3" is an example of a false subjective fact (at least in the real numbers). They are subjective because they rely upon the mind for their validity. Take away all of the objects in the universe, and so long as there's a mind to think it, we have that "1+1=2". Conversely, leave all of the objects in the universe, but take away the mind, and "1+1=2" no longer exists. It's true that you can verify objectively that a rock together with a rock makes two rocks, but it is necessary and sufficient that 1+1=2 if there is a mind to think it. It is neither necessary nor sufficient for the objects to exist, and therefore, it is a subjective truth.

Note also that (in this context) objective, subjective, fact, opinion, and truth are not antonyms. They all denote different and often overlapping ideas. There are false objective facts, true subjective opinions, true objective opinions, and many combinations of the above -- even factual opinions. However, as most people probably use the word "subjective" or "opinion" as something that's unverifiable -- or even, false -- I can see were many people might be confused on my intentions here.

Edit 2: Also, for those that are interested, here's a link to the formal proof:

www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-821811/thats-just-your-opinion?fpid=44447273
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Posted 9/23/13
I hate when people say something most people will clearly disagree with and then add 'in my opinion' as if that suddenly makes everything alright and it invalidates their statement from being open to any argument. Essentially, I think everything is an opinion. Like you were saying about the mathematics part, even saying 2+2=4 is still an opinion. It only equals 4 if you follow the rules of mathematics layed out by the human race which for all we know could be completely wrong. This guy says it better than I probably can: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JJjYNHZte4
Posted 9/23/13
Realize the difference between subjectivity and objectivity.
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Posted 9/23/13 , edited 9/23/13
In conversation, I don't think it really bears mentioning that what people say is their opinion. I mean, of course it's their opinion, by virtue of the fact that they said it. Most of the time when I read this phrase on the net I just think of The Big Lebowski (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWdd6_ZxX8c).
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Posted 9/23/13
But chromosome, this is clearly just your opinion

Although in reality your correct. Some of our best advances in science come from people saying 2+2 doesn't equal 4, logic is simply an opinion that as been accepted by the whole of humanity to be correct. Simply stating "In my opinion" isn't enough if you don't explain the reasoning behind your opinion.
Posted 9/23/13
You know theYchromosome. all that was really...Just your opinion.

But still, I can see where you are coming from. In my opinion that is.
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Posted 9/23/13

puellapeanut wrote:

You know theYchromosome. all that was really...Just your opinion.

But still, I can see where you are coming from. In my opinion that is.


I feel like you some how one-upped me
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Posted 9/23/13 , edited 9/23/13


Sorry, but you're wrong. I don't think you fully understand the use and meaning of these words.

Only a fact can be right or wrong as it's a matter of certainty. Ideas are up for debate as they have not been proven. Opinions are derived from personal preferences and view points particular to individuals.

Opinions can be stupid, absurd, brilliant or inspiring but they can't be right or wrong because they're subjective and not concrete. They're what you want them to be.
Facts are either right or wrong, they're not subjective. It is or it isn't, there's no grey area where it depends on the view of the person in question. You don't have a choice in the matter, it is what it is.


I hope this helps clear your confusion.
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Posted 9/23/13
I just had this conversation this morning with my friends in school...

The topic was music, and they kept going on how metal is such a bad genre (which is infuriating to me because I love metal, and they really haven't listened to any metal). The only thing I heard from their side is that metal is just "screamo music" and they bash about how "crap" the composition of each songs. And all I do is just ignore them, thinking about how dumb they are
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Posted 9/23/13
But, 10+10=4.......

PS You're a nerd if you get it.
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Posted 9/23/13 , edited 9/23/13
I also share your dislike of the phrase “That’s just your opinion” and to a greater extent the closing or starting of something with “in my opinion.” But, it is important to realize that most of the time, these phrases are valid, although not for the reason they are thought to be. These phrases are valid because most people develop their opinions solely based on emotion. There is no way to contradict opinions based on emotion because they are specific to the person making the opinion. You could perhaps demonstrate that his emotions are wrong, but as long as they are there, his opinion is irrefutable. Now, this is not to say that those opinions are useful; In fact, these emotion based opinions are utterly useless for most things. Giving an emotionally based opinion not backed up with logic or evidence for anything of real importance is like telling people your favorite flavor of ice-cream.
This:

“Should we have stricter gun control?”
“I think we should”

Is the same as this:

“Should we have stricter gun control?”
“My favorite flavor of ice-cream is cookies & cream”

Until you bring logic or evidence into your opinion—as to make it an argument—they’re just feelings, your feelings; zero is the number of fucks given about your feelings. Sadly, people will decide important things based on emotion. To see this emotion in action, let’s take a look at how many Christians believe divorce is acceptable (I’ve only found statistics for the U.S., so I will only argue for that population). Most of United States is Christian, 73% as of 2012 in fact.* Most of these Christians believe that religion is important in their lives.** And yet, over 50% of marriages end in divorce.*** So, at least most people—who are mostly Christian—believe that divorce is okay, and are exposed to the idea that divorce is okay. But, the New Testament quite clearly quotes Christ on saying “Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder” (DRB Matthew 19:6). To be a Christian is to believe what Christ says, heck we get the word “Christian” from “Christ.” These Christians do away with their beliefs because they feel that their reasons for divorce are more important that Christ’s words. I have no problem with Christians, but for Christ’s sake, believe and do what your religion tells you to or just don’t be a Christian. Because of this, I will venture to say that most of the people of the U.S base their decisions on emotion—and are stupid (stupid is a stretch, I know).

It is important to note the difference between opinion and fact however. Fact is an objective reality. It is, for example, a fact that I am sitting down at this computer typing this post. Opinion is a person’s thoughts on something. For example, it is my opinion that this post is a good one, but another may be of the opinion that this post is bad. But, to even have both of these concepts be real, we must assume that an objective reality exists for there to be facts about, and we must assume that we exist in the objective reality for us to have opinions in. And finally, as long as an opinion is only based on emotion, it's not questionable, it's so pointless it doesn't even have the capacity of being right or wrong. But, bring in an actual argument to go along with that opinion, now, there's something to talk about. You can be wrong if you've got an argument, and you can also be right.

Given this, I could really care less about someone’s opinions if they’re solely based on emotion. Those opinions are useless, and following them up with “in my opinion” does absolutely nothing.

I don’t want your opinion, I want your argument—your logic, your evidence.

*http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/
**http://religions.pewforum.org/comparisons#
***http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/divorce.htm
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Posted 9/23/13
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Posted 9/23/13
Obviously, 2 + 2 = 5.
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Posted 9/23/13
Stopped reading at "Opinions are always either right or wrong" till than i was interested in what you had to say but at that point i realized it would be a waste of my time to read on.
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Posted 9/23/13
I'm not certain what your rant about "everyone's brains work the same" is supposed to mean. In terms of 'tastes' and 'interests', people do vary considerably. I (my brain/mind/whatever) have no interest in sports. Others see sports as a way of life. Some people are obsessed with working out and looking and feeling their best; others could care less and just sit around on their ass all day watching cartoons. We're different. The End.

Do you mean that, biologically speaking, all humans require certain things in order to continue to live? Well then, yeah, no question, in that context, everyone has the same 'taste' (actually more like 'needs'). You're really getting into what is called semantics with your ranting, though. You're redefining terms like 'interests' and 'tastes' in very specific ways.

I find it a little bizarre that you get so apoplectic over someone not sharing the same view as you, to be brutally honest...

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