Does Everyone’s Opinion Matter?

Wherever there are people, there are arguments.

People’s opinion sparks— in reality or on the web, with family or with strangers, about who’s going to wash dishes or whether a law should be passed. When numerous opinions of different sides clash together, only a few will survive and be adhered to. This contradicts a common belief that “everyone’s opinion matters”. It is practically impossible to act in accord with all opinions, so we come to a question:

Does everyone’s opinion really matter?

Of course, it is crucial to respect and understand people of different sides, but there are illogical opinions that can lead to disastrous results if they become popular and are followed. When an opinion is formed without the support of knowledge, it rarely has any practical value.

What we will explore here is the ignorance in opinions — if the arguments are not formed logically, it should not affect any decision making.

There is a simple test to identify if someone has a rational opinion, an opinion worth contemplating or considering: Ask the person to elaborate on the effects resulted if their opinions are followed. The result is usually astounding empty, either lacking important points or saturated with personal emotions. People suggesting a policy usually can’t utter a sentence when they are asked how it will lead to the result, and the steps between.

You may as well ask them about facts relevant to the topic. The result is just the same — people often have no clue on the topic they have extreme opinions on. Artificial intelligence scares a lot of people, but only a few know how it operates differently from ordinary computers. Many people have strong opinions, stronger than their knowledge would allow.

Why is it? How does it happen?

The disaster starts with an individual. When a person receives a bit of information, he will have a sense of being knowledgeable. The next thing he will do is to spread what he thinks and whip up everyone’s emotions. Like a virus, people who hear what he says may spread his opinion further, everyone with a neutral attitude will be influenced.

You can experiment with this on kids: Tell a kid something surreal but awesome — but don’t make it sounds logical. Soon, you may hear other children talking about the surreal thing. A bit of unverified information can spread among a community in a short time.

This process requires neither solid evidence nor logic, so people will gain a strong but unsound opinion. The ignorance virus infects everyone but those who think logically.

Things can get worse. Most people do not like to spend time with people of different stances, they instinctively like people who agree with them. What happens when two like minds come together?

You will not expect them to be less radical. They will accentuate their belief, they will criticize the opposition together, and their animosity will expand. The interaction with agreers will only lead to polarization, and that’s how people hold radical beliefs with little knowledge.

The weak foundation of opinions is exposed when people are asked to articulate. People can talk a lot about their beliefs, but not when it comes to facts, even the most basic ones, they are stuck. They don’t have a clue about important facts of the topic, because such things are absent when they were forming extreme beliefs.

People have been firing over their opinions — Who’s right? Who’s wrong? What will work? What will fail? Perhaps, however, we should spend more time on the foundation of opinions.