In other words: If opinions are equal, then my ignorance is equal to anyone’s expertise.
Someone told me during an argument about COVID’s reality that everyone’s opinion is valid. I’m going to have to disagree with that. Not only is that not even remotely true, but the person speaking didn’t believe it for a minute. It’s just that she did not agree with my opinion and the fact that I believe the death toll isn’t exaggerated; I believe it’s grossly under-reported. The difference in our opinions was this: I read as widely as I can on the pandemic, but I focus on reputable sources. She relied on right-wing political commentary and the single fact that she once saw a report in her hospital that a person who died in a car accident was listed as a COVID death. That single incident told her that hospitals are adding names to the COVID list that don’t belong there, increasing the totals, and bringing additional money into the hospital because the government is compensating for COVID deaths.
So, I was trying to rely on that facts that have been published by the CDC, US Gov’t, NY Times, WHO, and other independent reporting agencies. She was doing something else.
Here’s my point about opinions though. Let’s say I work in a hospital and manage a particular section. A new worker is filling out the forms improperly and I approach them and say so. They reply that this is the way it was done in the other hospital and this was acceptable there. I say, well it isn’t acceptable here, so do it our way. The reply is that acceptable should be the same across hospitals and therefore my opinion does not outweigh their opinion. My reply to this “equality of opinion” argument is: change it to our way or expect to be fired.
If a student comes up to me and argues that the answer given on a test question is logically correct and I incorrectly marked it wrong, we will have a discussion about correct answers. If they argue that MY correct answer is rooted in theory and cannot be proven correct, and therefore THEIR answer is equally accurate, we will have further discussion about correct answers. Arguing from a hypothesis is not remotely the same as arguing from theory and established principles. And I can give many examples to show that no one truly believes the contrary.
The world is not driven by each of us figuring out what’s correct based on personal experiences. Progress is the process of taking existing information and using it to either arrive at new conclusions or, even better, to use that information to develop testable hypotheses and new experiments. We stand on the shoulders of others. Going on gut feelings is a remarkably flawed approach. I may have an opinion, but without testing, it is only worth the imaginary paper it’s written on.
I have a problem with people who argue positions based on no research whatsoever and would rather lazily juggle second-hand information in their big fat brain. Bigger is not better, you know, as the obesity pandemic is demonstrating. Get some facts, present the facts, identify your sources (and not someone on TV who also failed to support their argument and probably high school science), and let’s compare information. That’s called a conversation, but it’s a process that can actually lead to greater understanding.