Monday, December 26, 2016

Opinions must change to fit facts

(My Clovis News Journal November 23, 2016)

How often do you change your opinion about anything? When you do, what causes the change?

With the reluctance toward changing an opinion, it's amazing anyone ever does, on anything. Yet, it is possible, and it does happen. I have changed my opinion on many things over the course of my life.

When I change my opinions, I would like for truth, reality, and reason to be the catalyst. When I'm wrong, I want to know, and I want this knowledge to change me.

I am very suspicious when anyone tries to change my opinions by appealing to emotion. It reeks of manipulation. Emotion is the preferred tool when an opinion has no facts to support it. It happens every time.

This doesn't mean I always change my opinions for the right reasons, nor does it mean flawed reasons never affect me. I'm honest enough to know anyone can fall for delusions and superstition, and we all allow our biases to color our perceptions of reality. But I don't have to like it.

Often, the more I observe and learn, the more holes I see in my previous opinions. Other times, when I ponder things I've known all along, I realize I haven't been consistent. Then I can't rest until the inconsistency is dealt with. Facts can't change to fit opinions; I must change my opinion to fit the facts.

Changing your mind in the face of new information isn't "wishy-washy", it is smart. Sticking to an opinion by ignoring new information is a sure sign of stubbornness. It may keep you popular, but it stunts you as a person.

One particular change in myself is, while my personal opinions are still largely conservative, I no longer feel entitled to use force to impose my opinions on others. In fact, I see that as one of the worst moral failures possible. Good ideas don't require force.

There are other opinions I hold which might be considered "liberal", but unlike most of those who call themselves liberal or progressive, the thought of using force-- particularly the force of the state through "laws"-- to force others to behave certain ways is completely repulsive to me.

This personal opinion has only gotten stronger over the years. No one has ever given me a compelling reason to change my opinion on the use of governmental force. Their failed justifications don't even begin to reach the level of evidence I require to change my mind.

(Also, as the Clovis News Journal and Portales News Tribune are becoming The Eastern New Mexico News, here is another link to this column: link


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