Saturday, January 22, 2011

Is everyone really entitled to their own opinion?

Tobold posted an interesting blog post today about the everlasting controversy over whether or not bloggers are considered journalists and to what standards bloggers should be held, I highly suggest reading it to anyone interested in blogging. I'm more interested in something he mentioned offhandedly in his blog, in which he was able to put into words a concept which I've had a hard time explaining recently. He said, "By definition for opinions there is no absolute truth, an opinion can't be right or wrong (although the arguments supporting an opinion can be)."

Many people, when I tell them that their opinion is wrong, attempt to make the argument as stated in the first part of Tobold's statement, that an opinion by definition cannot be right or wrong. The problem with this thinking is exactly as he so eloquently put it in the second part, if the arguments supporting an opinion are false that invalidates that opinion as something that should taken for consideration. Someone may hold the opinion that automobiles are operated by hard-working gnomes under the hood that take directions from the driver's interaction with the steering wheel and pedals but the premises for that opinion are demonstrably false, invalidating the opinion as well. Well, what is my point?

My point is that oftentimes the media treats two sides of an argument equally because both sides are "just opinions" and opinions cannot be false. The problem with this kind of reporting is that, in many instances, one or both of the opinions are based on premises that can be proven false beyond any doubt and yet they are still often reported on as if the opinion remains valid in some way; as if a rational person with evidence may hold that point of view without contradicting reality. This kind of reporting is passed off in every major media outlet as well-balanced and accurate, however never addresses the factual problems inherent in the opinions at the base of the argument. The media needs to acknowledge when there are factual contradictions behind an opinion and stop reporting it versus an opposing idea as if they were equals. They are not and treating them so is as dishonest as the people coming up with these opinions.

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