I don’t like the example above. Too often I see two conflicting ideas confused; that everyone has a right to an opinion, and that everyone’s opinion is equally valid.
The first point is clear and I would doubt is the cause of much controversy; everyone has the right to their opinion. We get into more complex territory when it comes to voicing those opinions (such as racist or homophobic ones) or acting on those opinions (praying for someone to get better rather than allowing basic medical treatment). This leads me to the second part of my statement, and it’s simple; opinions are not equally valid.
Imagine you need to sort a water leak in your home. You have two friends you could call; an accountant or a plumber. The former might have some suggestions, but are you going to view their opinion with the same weight as the latter? Of course not.
We have a dangerous approach to opinions, in that we feel we have to give equal attention to differing views in the interest of “fairness”, or “equality”. However, if you are looking at homeopathy, for example, fairness would not be giving each side of the debate equal time to promote their opinions. Homeopathy has no credible backing. There has not been a single study, completed to an acceptable standard according to the scientific method, that has shown support for homeopathy. However, when daytime television, or talk shows have a “balanced panel” they don’t generally have 99 qualified and competent scientists, and then 1 homeopathic promoter. It’s generally going to be one of each. This promotes the dangerous impression that this is a balanced debate with roughly equal evidence for and against. It’s not. It really isn’t. As the joke goes, if you are offered treatment from a homeopathic practitioner, ask if they will accept an empty envelope that previously contained cash as payment.
Some opinions are just wrong. I’m not talking about matters of taste or artistic interpretation, but when people have opinions about basic facts that are demonstrably false, like the Earth being flat. Some people confuse opinion with fact. The difference is that you can have your own opinions but you can’t have your own facts. Or, to put it another way, facts don’t change to suit your opinion.
This might seem like a bit of a pointless blog post, but I would argue that thinking more about opinions will lead to more informed decisions. This can be very important when it comes to investment decisions. When asking for an opinion on investing, someone might claim that property outperforms stocks, or vice versa. Is this a fact or an opinion? What is the individual’s experience in investing? Is there an agenda influencing their opinion?
So, bringing this full circle, what does all this have to do with the picture I posted at the start? Well, both people have their own opinion on what the number is from their perspective. However, the person who wrote the number will have written it with the intent of it being a 6 or a 9. So, factually, one person is wrong and one person is right.
Ok, ok, before some of you get all riled up I admit it’s a basic example. The person who wrote the number could have been deliberately confusing things by writing it in such a way that it confuses the reader. Or, like art, there might be no single correct interpretation, and once the art is released to the public, it is up to the public to decide on their own interpretation. It just frustrates me when I see examples like the image I posted because it feels as though it’s taking an important idea and reducing it so badly that the important parts are lost.
Let me know what you think in the comments. If you like my blog, please consider buying me a coffee on the link below. Thanks for reading.