An Unhumble Opinion

Jef Rouner hates opinions. Well, maybe not quite. I’ll let him explain it:

I spend far more time arguing on the Internet than can possibly be healthy, and the word I’ve come to loath more than any other is “opinion”. Opinion, or worse “belief”, has become the shield of every poorly-conceived notion that worms its way onto social media.

Skeptical-HippoI share the desire for a better-informed public. But people have been ill-informed, emotional, and downright irrational about public policy issues for long time. The Greeks killed Socrates and the Romans allowed Jesus to be crucified. Mr. Rouners’s side of the political fence is the one who believes the solution to this problem is to encourage or force the uninterested portion of the populace to vote at a higher rate.

I could do without Mr. Rouner’s self-congratulation on his intellectual prowess and superiority. There’s certainly nothing wrong with taking a strong interest in public policy. I do the same. But not everyone shares that interest, and wants to spend the time researching public policy questions so they can wax eloquent on their positions. Most people just want to take care of their kids, or go hunting and fishing, or read science fiction, or even pray, rather than maniacally following the shenanigans of a bunch of maniacs in Washington, DC. But sometimes they still get asked questions by pollsters, or read an article that seems off to them, and want to state their opinion. Only a jerk angrily rants at them for not having a detailed point paper to back up the quick calculation of their gut, heart, and brain.

And while his pet peeve is the half-informed trying to temper their statements with “that’s just my opinion”, my pet peeve is liberals posturing in a way that makes it seem as if their opinions have the backing of facts. Let me use your Rouner’s example to explain:

To quote John Oliver, who referenced a Gallup poll showing one in four Americans believe climate change isn’t real on his show, Last Week Tonight…

Who gives a shit? You don’t need people’s opinion on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking: “Which number is bigger, 15 or 5?” or “Do owls exist?” or “Are there hats?”

A few things to say on this:

  1. If Jon Oliver were around and popular in the 1970s, his pompous riff would have gone like this – “Does global cooling exist? Is overpopulation the greatest threat facing our planet? Will we reach peak oil within the decade? Who cares what people think about these facts?!” I will not be surprised if 30+ years from now, the real Jon Oliver is proven to be just as much of a jackass as the hypothetical 1970s version of him I just created.
  2. To read that poll as the respondents’ opinion on a scientific question is to be willfully obtuse. What they’re responding to, more than anything else, is what liberals believe to be the implications of a “yes” answer.
  3. And that gets us to my pet peeve. If you accept as fact (which I don’t, but that’s just my uninformed opinion) that liberals are correct on the cause, rapidity, and future impacts of global warming, it does not automatically follow that the solution to that problem is government ownership and/or management of energy markets, perhaps even on a worldwide scale. That is simply liberals’ opinion of what the next step needs to be. Yet they link the simple “Does climate change exist” question with the unspoken “and thus, a carbon trading law should be passed by Congress”, and call themselves arbiters of fact. On the contrary, “we can control the earth’s climate if we just pass the right law!” is a more batpoop crazy opinion than any of the examples Mr. Rouner gives.

Oh, and one more thing, Rouner says:

What’s that? Planned Parenthood is chopping up dead babies and selling them for phat cash? No, that’s not what actually happened. No, it’s not your opinion. You’re just wrong.

He’s right, they’re just chopping up dead babies. End of sentence. And as we all know, there’s nothing wrong with chopping up dead babies, and only an ignorant, overly opinionated creep would think otherwise. Because harvesting human baby organs is only unsettling if you profit from it. Otherwise it’s just something a normal, morally healthy society does. Right?

Or maybe that’s just a sick, twisted opinion.

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