Thomas Hawkins

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Do we have an opinion about everything? If not, should we?

The ideas, questions and debates discussed here on the TED platform allow us to share opinions, answers and lots more.

What is it that makes us form an opinion? Is it something we do through choice? On what level of consciousness are opinions formed?

I chose the "Gotta Share" video as it was the last video I watched before I thought about this. Perhaps its the sharing with others that makes us opinionated? How we make our identity?


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    Apr 16 2013: I feel that for a lot of us, our opinions are the easiest way to "prove" to others that we're smart, likable, hip, or cool.

    PS: Please think I'm smart for saying so...and cool.
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      Apr 16 2013: Dear Chris,
      In my humble opinion, you appear to be a smart, likable, hip, and very cool person, who brings up a good point:>)

      I think/feel a lot of times, people want to share opinions to "prove" something to others. The challenge with that idea, often, is that opinions are subjective. Sometimes, the act of trying to "prove" something, becomes confrontational, because many times we cannot "prove" something that is subjective, and the other person may be wanting to "prove" their subjective idea as well. See what I mean?

      If a person gets lost in the idea of "proving" his/her subjective idea, the conversation simply goes around in circles. I think/feel it is important to recognize that our opinions, are not always shared by everyone, and to try to force that opinion onto others to appear to be smarter, does not always create the situation where strongly opinionated people are thought of as likable or cool.....what do you think about that?
      • Apr 18 2013: Well said, and your post script put a smile on my face, Chris!

        How fascinating this is, to ask opinions about opinions!

        It takes a certain degree of intellect to recognize an opinion, and it takes a certain degree of honesty to share one.
  • Apr 13 2013: Just wondering, isn't everything we say opinion? I mean, we don't really know anything for sure in this world. As soon as we 'define' something, that becomes our opinion.
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      Apr 14 2013: do you "know" how to swim? tie your shoes? read? is mathematics an opinion? you know more than you know... 8) opinions should be formed on a as-needed basis, as being overly opinionated is counter-productive to healthy communication. just my opinion...
      • Apr 18 2013: No, I do not know how to tie my shoes without a doubt neither do I know mathemathics will always work under any circumstances and neither do you!

        Because in maybe two thousand, maybe 50Billion years you will learn that mathematics only work in four Dimensions or I DON'T KNOW! ^^
        On another hand a mathemacian from some while ago might have made a mistake which has been adopted to the mathematic laws, because noone found it, because it occurs only under very special conditions, so it never happened yet, so math is as wrong as it is right for all I know. All the more important it is that you form your opinions on matter as precautionous as possible.
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          Apr 18 2013: well said, but that doesn't make mathematics an opinion. you seem to have missed the point. all information is relative, including god.
    • Apr 25 2013: Naah.. Mathematics and shoe tying techniques are not opinions (in my opinion). But you can have a strong opinion about mathematics or certain shoelace tying techniques. Opinion is tied with a personal appreciation,it's about your feelings.

      Opinions are not about the definition of the object (the car is red, 3m long, 4 wheels) it's about your subjective appreciation of the object (it's f**kin ugly, people who drive that kind of car are jerks, etc...).
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    Mar 30 2013: I don't think we can, practically speaking, have an opinion on everything, as we are limited in our ability to gather and process information. Many will choose to have well-considered opinions in fewer areas rather than weakly informed and considered decisions in a very large number.

    Beyond this, I don't think we should feel an imperative to express our opinions on every matter where we may have them.
  • Apr 25 2013: Interesting topic! I feel the urge to give my opinion here! :D

    I think that whenever we come across a new information. (We read a headline, see a advertisement, meet a new person) we kind of subconsciously make up a first opinion. We compare this new piece of information with the things we learned and experimented in the past and I feel like our brain automatically categorizes this information in order to store it and remember it.

    Then there is the opinion, more in the sense of belief. This is built slowly over time, it can evolve and mature (if we let it evolve and mature...) I feel this difference is important because too often, we hear something on a topic we never truly studied and immediately we turn our first opinion into a strong unfounded belief and we are already trying to shove it down some other guy's throat. And I'm mostly saying this as a reminder to myself here. Maybe it's the backside of the coin with freedom of speech and democracy; we all ended up having a very high opinion of our own opinions. Is a search on google and wikipedia enough to build an educated opinion on a subject? I don't think so.

    So back to your question: Do we have an opinion about everything? Yes a first opinion is automatically created in order to label and store information. I don't have scientific proof of this, but I feel that's how my brain works, my memories are very often bound to their appreciation somehow. Should we have an opinion about everything? Yes! But we should be ready to let this opinion evolve and make it mature as we learn about the opinions of others.
  • Apr 20 2013: Therein lays the problem with democracy itself, everyone regardless of ability, skill or experience, has an opinion.
  • Apr 18 2013: Interesting! Yesterday, I saw a 'conversation' happening on Facebook. Someone gave an opinion, which rubbed someone else the wrong way and felt attacked. Within minutes, a social-media brawl was going on!

    An opinion does say everything about our identity, and so it should! An opinion is personal, it's the way we express our thoughts and feelings towards anyone and anything! But, someone who is 'opinionated' is "conceitedly assertive and dogmatic in one's opinions" according to the dictionary, a very negative and destructive description, if you ask me.

    An opinion can be so quickly misinterpreted, when there should be nothing wrong with voicing how we feel. An opinion is never an attack, although it is too often perceived as one.
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    Apr 18 2013: Only about things we know nothing about.
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    Apr 14 2013: There's no rule about having opinions. It's not that we should, nor that we should not, have opinions. I guess, opinions are created as a response to something that stimulates one's mind. I think 'Interest' is perhaps the most basic cause which creates opinion. If one does not have interest in something, I don't see how one can have opinion in that thing. Other weaker cause might be when somebody asks you for your opinion about something which might not interest you so much. But if the asker is close enough to you or his//her question creates some stimulation in your mind, then you might make some efforts and start thinking about that not interesting//unfamiliar issue and then create some opinion.

    The other question you ask -- "On what level of consciousness are opinions formed?" -- is a terrific question.

    I think there's always sub-conscious elements or processes which affect our final opinion. What changes each particular case of creating an opinion I guess is the mutual balance between the conscious and sub-conscious elements. This balance is influenced among others by the issue discussed, our personality, mood, level of our knowledge about that particular issue, level of our self-awareness, level of our mind's lucidity and so on.

    I think there are quite a few talks at TED which touch this question from various directions, although they do not necessarily claim directly doing so.
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    Apr 8 2013: Do we have an opinion about everything?
    but it should be as easy as possible for us to get an informed opinion about anything.

    As for how oppinions are formed:
    It depends... you can form an opnion actively/explicitly. In such a case it is very conscious, and probably accompanied by searching behavior and attention towards things that relate with the topic of choice

    If you are asked about an opinion that you actually never thought about, you make a quick assesment of it in your brain (which will be very vulnarable to priming), and come up with an opinion that seems in line of your way of thinking.

    And often such opinions are formed implicitly, according to your environment (enculuration, socialisation), and probably according to our biological predisposisions (e.g.: we humans tend to avoid incest, and that has some clear biological roots)

    I know this answer is too short, but I guess you can find ways to inform yourself ;-)
  • Apr 8 2013: Hi Thomas,

    Nice topic. :-) I think that we are all unique beings and that's why our feelings, lives and thoughts are so different. That's the way it should be. I believe in people making the difference and expressing themselves, but properly and with respect.

    Many people confuse the term "opinionated" with "complainer" or "critic". I believe we are all entitled to our ideas and opinions and sharing them with the world, but always respecting each other's beliefs and ways of thinking. As long as there's tolerance and respect, opinions should be encouraged. As you said in your introduction: it's how we make our identity.
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    Apr 3 2013: As I grow older there are less and less stuff I have strong opinions about and in most cases I tend to keep them to myself. There are very few things (like racial and gender equality) only which I would fight for pretty hard... Most of the things are super-complicated so it is not so good to have strong opinions about them.
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      Apr 5 2013: Hey Tibor,

      Thanks for the contribution.
      I agree that certain topics will have priority over others in our lives, thus our opinions are likely to follow the same order.

      Here's a question for you... As you said that "most of the things are super-complicated so its not so good to have strong opinions about them" would that suggest IF you had a greater understanding of the topic you should have an opinion, or can you sit on the fence still with no opinion even though you have great understanding?
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        Apr 5 2013: If I had a greater understanding or felt very passionate about something I would express my opinion!
  • Mar 29 2013: Theres plenty of stuff, more than not, that's over my head here at TED that I would never consider an opinion on, let alone, comment on. Although all who are informed are not opinionated, all opinions should be at the least, somewhat informed.
  • Comment deleted

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      Apr 2 2013: Don, thank you.

      I am saddened to hear TED deletes your comments. I guess that would suggest that even if all of us do have opinions, some are perhaps not welcomed and/or even necessary, in the eyes of others. Ironically, this in itself is a catalyst for opinions!

      I can say that my needs are met by each post, and yours was a fine one indeed. If I may take you up on your last sentence and ask... where you "make a choice" is 1. where you decide to voice an opinion because you feel strongly about the topic, or 2. is it the choosing of the conversation because you discretely have an opinion on this topic?
  • Mar 29 2013: There is much more to be understood and discovered by enquiring deeply and seriously into the opinions of Others......The world is filled to the brim with opinions and beliefs that only Scratch the Surface of any attainable truth.......The shallowness of examination is not hard to see in this world.

    Entertain everything. Believe nothing
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      Apr 2 2013: Thanks Scott... I agree with you.

      Would it be fair to say that you believe that everyone does not have opinions about all topics? Yet, it is wise to listen to those who do have an opinion where your own is absent?
  • Apr 29 2013: opinions are just experiences condensed unto the limit of expressing them in words.

    if i have an opinion about someone - long hairs, cute chin, cat eyes - i have something in my memory to compare them with.

    if i have opinions about country and its politics, it is again from my memory of the government's contribution and negligence.

    opinions are not formed. it is more of a phenomenon to have an opinion. it is resultant of past experiences.

    now to try and form opinions about your questions:

    What is it that makes us form an opinion? the desire to express. until it is expressed, an opinion is just a point of view. when that point comes in public, it is called an opinion.

    Is it something we do through choice? yes. we choose to provide opinions for various reasons.

    On what level of consciousness are opinions formed? in the conscious level. subconscious and super conscious have no use of your opinions. subconscious brain learns through habit and super conscious brain is just energy. so forming views and expressing them as opinions is a purely conscious process.

    Perhaps its the sharing with others that makes us opinionated? absolutely. an opinion comes into existance when it is shared with others. within the limits of our mind, that view is called many things. but when expressed witht he intent to make heard, it becomes opinion.

    How we make our identity? this is a pretty much different question. identity is subject to identification with he surroundings, people around, associating, forming clusters of social units, etc. an identity is more of a definition of a person in social terms. after the identity formation is complete, one may start expressing opinions from past experience or points of views.

    hope it helped. :)
  • Apr 27 2013: Thank you for asking this important question.

    I don’t think we have to have an opinion about everything! What’s an opinion anyway? Accumulated knowledge or thoughts throughout a lifetime? Right or wrong thoughts? Which thought is considered right or wrong? How is an opinion created or adapted?

    Lets look at religions for example: Many groups believe in something they consider the truth and live it. A very simple question that comes up here is: Which belief is a true belief? They could all be untrue! Still millions of humans put their faith in something they consider the truth without knowing if it is!

    Our minds take all bits of information, true or false, and twist thoughts around them all the time. This could be considered insane! How important is all the stuff we know? What’s worth knowing and what’s just junk? How do we find out what we believe wasn't just given to us and is actually true? Any thought could be considered right and wrong from different viewpoints. I’ve read this next part a while ago and it seems to fit in here:

    The sun is rising every morning, which is true from one point of view, but someone could also say the sun never sets nor rises, which is also true, if you are in space above earth. This brings up the question: How credible is any thought, belief or opinion in it’s origin?

    Any belief can quickly turn into a dogma, law or regulation, but it can also disappear as quickly once a new level of understanding is reached! This shows the impermanent nature of a belief. So how do we know that any belief or opinion is more true than another? I have a feeling that there’s something that is more important than a belief or an opinion. This something might be the awareness in each and everyone that enables us to believe in something, the consciousness that is there before any thought. However, i "believe" it is “good” to believe in something even if it’s an untrue belief, because how else could we come to realize it’s falsity!?
    All the best
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    Apr 27 2013: opinions are created from the level of light you have obtained in this life. also the people who are present in the conversation will effect your opionion. because you love the people around you and if you speak from your heart what ever you do say will have things that the other person might be able to use in some way. we are all connected
  • Apr 24 2013: Maybe at some point in the future, I will choose my words like a great orator. But not today.

    Yeah, as long as you're paying attention, processing the info is an intrinsic process.
    But then there's the (conscious or unconscious) decision to even pay attention.
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    Apr 23 2013: "Really though, there are just too many issues out there to have opinions on everything. I only have so much brainspace!." On the contrary, I would say that your brain can store as much or as little as it chooses.

    When someone says anything you will have drawn an opinion from numerous things. What they said, how they said it, how they were standing when they said it, what their voice was like when they said it. Your opinion is yours, you have it, you draw it. Sometimes its just a case of picking the right time and moment to express it. Social etiquette dictates that more than anything. How you choose to act on that social etiquette defines you as a person I suppose but that might be a completely different question. I agree with Michael on this, more than anything. If more people were encouraged to speak their mind freely and not fear social downfall then I think people everywhere would be leading healthier, more stimulating lives. But then more social etiquette comes in to play. Apparent arrogance, the viability of sources, who said what and why...
    • Apr 24 2013: I get what you're saying. If I receive new information on a topic, I MUST make a decision about what to do with that info, and the metadata on context and situation. Even if I decide that it is not relevant to me, or I am not relevant to the topic, that is still my formulated opinion.
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        Apr 24 2013: Marvellous. However, unless I'm interpreting it wrong, I would have thought that MUST would not be the right word. Must leads me to think that there is a choice and that absorbing the information and processing it is a choice. I would have thought that it's just 'something' that happens. But yes, I would've thought that you're very right. Edit: Especially in the case of someone speaking to you. It would be like trying to 'unhear' music.
        • Apr 24 2013: Hi Henry and Kevin,
          I enjoyed reading your comments, and was especially struck by your comment, Henry, that not processing information while someone speaking to you is like 'unhearing' music. How right on that is! Music and speech evolved almost simultaneously, music is a form of communication that touches our intuition and emotion, where I like to think our opinions also originate.
  • Apr 20 2013: I do believe everyone has got an opinion on almost everything. even if its a mere thought or the travel of mind on what the thing could be.
    but, Ive faced a problem concerning this idea. its not always easy to speak up your mind, sometimes you just feel as if the room is there to attack you as soon as the idea is out. especially when its not in the fields of your expertise.
    Words are dangerous, they could give off the best idea about your identity or do the complete opposite
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    Apr 20 2013: The more I think of this, the more I am forced to share my opinion, *grins*.

    We should all start a new campaign towards everyone we meet, a campaign to encourage everyone to speak their minds no matter what it is, it's important since it's from each and every one of you.

    Opinions are the reason we have many forms of technology available, it's the reason we are a work in process civilized society, it's why we have innovation. Since without people freely sharing their minds we wouldn't have the variety of ideas that help evolve already existing ones. Think back to certain eras of history for that one.
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    Gord G

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    Apr 20 2013: Yes! We have an opinion about everything. But everything doesn't care what we think. ;-)
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    Apr 19 2013: G'day Thomas

    No I don't have an opinion about everything & no we shouldn't either unless we know what we are talking about to some extent.

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    Apr 18 2013: We can have opinion on everything if it does not harm any body. AND donot venture anywhere uninvited.
  • Dan F

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    Apr 16 2013: Having opinions is characteristic of the thought process from the most sophisticated to the most superficial among us. The more open minded are likely the student types whom are encouraged to be open to learning by parent(s), or teachers, or other important influences and contacts.

    Adult life is full of decisions involving opinion driven situations. It is part of the aging and maturing process.

    Although each of us are expected and naturally tend to form opinions due to family influence, peer pressure, schooling, life experiences, etc., that fact does not need to preclude our individual ability to rethink any given opinion we may hold, no matter how strong.

    Perhaps this is the true beauty of living in a more free and open society.
  • Anh Le

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    Apr 16 2013: I would say "No, we don't have to". Personally I give opinions that I have certain knowledge about. If I am unsure, I'd prefer to stay with the "no opinion" mode. I also think sometimes the relevancy between "assumption" and "opinion". Because somebody tends to give opinion when they are not fully acknowledged about some specific topic, is it just an assumption or should it be considered as an opinion?
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    Apr 15 2013: I only make opions on things (I think) I know about.
    You shouldn't have an opinion if you don't know what you are talking about, I mean do I have an opinion on string theory?
    No, because I don't understand it.
    I feel that you should only voice an opinion if you "think" you have something worthwhile saying!
    Yet I must admit, I do have a habit on commenting everything which intrigues me! :)
    " On what level of consciousness are opinions formed". I would say opinions are mostly unconscious, yet this is just a pure hypothesis!
    Yet you must be willing to admit your wrong. (If you are!)
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      Apr 15 2013: Bernard,
      You and Thomas ask...."On what level of consciousness are opinions formed".?

      Why would opinions be "unconscious" Bernard? Perhaps if the person is living a life unconsciously?

      I suggest opinions are formed depending on how much information we are willing to consider from several levels of consciousness. The more mindfully aware we are, the more information we assimilate on different levels.....make any sense?
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        Apr 15 2013: Very simply because I don't believe as much free-will as we like to think!
        And the fact that so many things influence our decisions, which are out of awareness. I mean take the Stanley Millgram experiment (the obedience one!) if you did one set of conditions everybody would rebel, if you did another set of conditions (almost) everybody would be 100% obedient.
        So in that sense I am not sure I am in full control over my own opinions!
        "I suggest opinions are formed depending on how much information we are willing to consider from several levels of consciousness."
        That is another factor, how much information you have! And how you percieve that information, I mean how people can view the same event different ways. And you can usually find out why, with enough back ground information about them.
        "The more mindfully aware we are, the more information we assimilate on different levels.....make any sense?"
        I do agree. It's just I think we are thinking about this from two very different perspectives! You are thinking (I think! Correct me if I am wrong) that with more information, and an open mind you are more likley to choose opinions, which will be your own choice. And I am saying that you could determine all this if you knew what stimuli formed this opinion! Hope this makes sense as well!
        Kind regards,
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          Apr 18 2013: Dear Bernard,
          I have no desire to "correct" you, and I hope by now you understand that I do not judge opinions to be "wrong".....maybe different......not wrong.

          It appears that we agree with the idea that how much information we have and how we perceive the information influences opinions.

          To clarify..;...I believe all opinions are our choice....depending on how we assimilate, evaluate and accept information. You say...."I don't believe as much free-will as we like to think!"

          Perhaps that is a point we do not agree on. I believe, assuming we are functioning adults, that we are free to form opinions.
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      Apr 19 2013: can't have an opinion even if you stay at holiday inn?
  • Apr 9 2013: Very clever ideas, Zhao!

    "...I can only use my stick to measure your stick" is so true.

    And that is a good philosophical point you made: if our judgement is based on Universal Truth, is it still subjective opinion?

    My opinion is no, it did not come from us but was somehow revealed and given to us. So it remains Truth if it is preserved and communicated without modification. Like good copyrighters, we must then always be careful to state the source of our comments so that there is no confusion between preserved/revealed Universal Truth and changing subjective personal opinion. I will try to practice that. :-)

    "The Truth is..." vs. "But my undecided personal opinion is..."
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    Apr 8 2013: Yes and... yes.
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    Apr 8 2013: Thinking comprehensive is my purpose.

    This goal be about to appear at 15 . For getting a high score at my cours , i must be good at answer the subjective items and that , which need you can think of all the angles . In chinese text ,this skill is totally essential .

    Eg : What the reason western powers start the First Opium War ?( not offence)

    There is two leading part need thinking : subjective & Objective .

    And then is the three specific clues like : Politics , Economy , Culture and Military

    Then use the specific clues to analyse the leading part respectively.

    The answer is :

    1. Because the The industrial revolution ,west power need A lot of raw materials .
    2. We were at late Qing Dynasty, national power decline .
    3.Western countries have finished the Regime changing.
    4. The political situation of late Qing Dynasty is unstable .
    5.West power has advanced science and technology .
    6.The policy —— Seclusion .

    I wanna say ,a process of our mind is vital .And we must confirm the aspect we need thinking before we say the concrete content . We need a frame ,but do not be fasten . We need novel perspective but we should enumerate the fundamental viewpoint and then stand on your stage state your argument.

    The perspective should be our tool not be the aim . We should use the perspective complete our viewpoint .

    Nothing is perfect. We can close the circle but we can't reach .

    I think " Growing up " is meant your consciousness is expanding . Don't painstakingly making your minds mature .

    Just look around and notice amazing things around you.
    • Apr 8 2013: Thinking about what you wrote, I began to think that the human mind cannot generate facts from itself... only opinions. Anything that is fact must be universaly accepted as such... meaning it needs no human to enforce its acceptance. The Truth always is. Everything else is opinion.

      So it seems that we can only create subjective opinions and not objective facts - even if you feel sick that is an opinion as the man whose opinion is that he is well gets well while the man whose opinion is of sickness remains sick. Our existence is all relative, it seems.

      What is your opinion?
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        Apr 9 2013: I agree with you ! Minds cannot change the obgective reality.

        Of course we maynot be considerate everthing for others . The emotion of us all from our imagination
        that pretend ourseslves to be the others , for the reall experience .

        The key is the extent of the pretend ,the more you imagine ,the more realistic you'll receive . Thus your comments or your advice will be more fitting for the party's request .

        We can only use my sense to measure your sense . Except for this, i cannot and do not have other ways .

        But we , a person has basic moral and reason ,and know the principle of the nature that there is something do not change follow our mind .

        When use these truth to jugde an incident ,is it also attribute to the subjective ?

        PS: Have you seen The Theory of Moral Sentiments ?
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    Apr 7 2013: Whenever I hear people consider the value of opinions I remember the late 80's and the pedestrian rhetoric about HIV and how it was only transmitted between homosexuals and i.v. drug users (along with a slew of other social myths). While not false not really true either.

    We all form opinions for different reasons. Some are struggling to convince themselves that they have a good grasp of their environment, others are trying to relate to their peers. When people take the time to formally present their opinions we begin identifying them as facts. Again, while not accurate I suppose one has to start somewhere.

    To the pedestrian developing an opinion about the risks of contracting a disease is almost more a matter of affirming their station in life, qualifying their sense of uprightness, than it is a practical method of reasoning. However to the tactician an opinion is barely an intuition. It's taking an instance of minimal evidence and using it as a temporary premise, a veritable bookmark for a better idea that's waiting to be run through the wringer of severe scrutiny. Of course there are the many instance of opinion as conversation piece but that's very different from the psychological event.

    For practical purposes opinions are a dream, a fantasy that makes things seem convenient and accessible. As to the level of consciousness that they occur on; that's extremely complex. Consider that they are both reaction and catalyst, buffer and advocate.

    This general inquiry has been thoroughly studied from a different approach but began: A) at a time of very high illiteracy and with extremely scarce methods of communication, B) competition for developing psychology as a therapeutic practice was being heavily leveraged in favor of kinda crazy people, and C) very complex.

    Informal opinions as a social function and a shared device, both communal and communicable, is a reasonable consideration but by no means the root of the propensity.

  • Apr 5 2013: Is it possible NOT to have an opinion about everything?

    Surely we should ask ‘Is it an INFORMED opinion’ or ‘Is it an UNINFORMED opinion’ in order to place a degree of value on that opinion?

    Let’s face it, we all have a point-of-view on millions of things we know absolutely nothing about. But if we’re honest, those opinions are, at best worthless, and at worst prejudiced. And yet if we’ve done our homework, researched our subject and looked at the facts, our opinions have validity.

    That said, I have an opinion about the colour 'reflex blue' that is neither informed or uninformed, just based on my experience of it. I just dislike it, it's garish. I'm rambling.... :)
  • mary T

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    Apr 5 2013: Hmmm, I don't really have an opinion on this.
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      Apr 5 2013: I was waiting for this ;)
      • mary T

        • +1
        Apr 5 2013: Sorry, it was irresistible to me.
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    Mar 31 2013: The lyrics of the talented John Mayer comes to mind: "You gotta know that in the end its better to say too much than not say what you need to say"

    Some things have to be said because they enrich and inform and liberate; such things NEED to be said. Sometimes questions and debates bring so much to light.

    All it takes is wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent.
    Only a fool would want to say everything on his mind about anything and at all times.
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      Apr 2 2013: Hey Feyisayo, thanks for your comment!

      Always a pleasure to bring music into a conversation! I went and listened to John Mayer before replying... I'd never heard that song before. Always glad to hear new music. Thanks.

      "All it takes is wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent." - but it takes courage for the quiet type to voice their heart. A fine line.

      I do agree with you Feyisayo, I think people are more willing to hear rather than listen, and to talk to rather than with.
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    Mar 30 2013: I do not have any opinion about any person. I think we should not have opinions about persons either.
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      Apr 2 2013: hey Pabitra, thank you for your comment!

      With respect, how do you do that? How do you think of others?
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        Apr 2 2013: A person is not an issue, an event, a situation or a proposition. Opinions are, IMO, just not applicable about persons. One can have opinion about their actions, beliefs, positions, but not about the person.
        I am completely unable to judge persons as just persons and unable to form opinion about them. I may like or dislike them and then may change my mind later, but will continue to believe he/she has every right to be himself/herself.
        Thanks that you asked. :)
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          Apr 2 2013: Pabitra,
          It appears that you seperate the person from the behavior? I admire and respect that process, and feel that it contribures to more clarity in our "self":>)
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          Apr 10 2013: Pabitra,

          If you believe the "person is separated from the behavior" as Colleen has pointed out, how does responsibility and accountability play into this?
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          Apr 11 2013: Hi Casey....nice to see you again:>)
          I realize your question is for Pabitra, and I would like to share my perspective, if you don't mind. Hopefully, Pabitra will pop in as well:>)

          Pabitra mentions "to judge persons", in his comment, so I perceive him saying that with an opinion (judgment) about a person, he seperates the person from the behavior. People often tend to label another person a "bad" person because s/he may have a behavior(s) that is not as usefull to him/herself or to humanity.

          With the ability to seperate the person from the behavior, we can perceive the behavior as not good, and we can recognize other qualities of the person. It changes our perception of the person, when we can observe the whole picture.

          My father, for example, was violent and abusive....not a good or beneficial behavior. He also was a hard worker, financially responsible for 8 kids, did some charity work, etc. My mother always used to the man...hate the behavior. From the time I was a wee little lass, I learned to seperate behavior from the person. As an adult, while volunteering with men who were incarcerated, I certainly recognized their behaviors that were detrimental to society and to themselves. AND I also observed that they had skills and talents, which I focused on.

          If people with less useful behaviors can realize that they may have something useful to build on, share, and offer to society, they sometimes gravitate to that and stop the less usefull (bad) behaviors. If people can realize that they can be a more useful and respected member of society, it contributes to their self esteem, which is often lacking.

          How does responsibility and accountability play into this?
          The person him/herself can recognize the behavior and decide to change....or not. We can still ask a person to be responsible and accountable for his/her behavior, without the dynamic of labeling him/her a "bad" person. Make any sense?

          Good question casey:>)
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        Apr 3 2013: I do Colleen. Do you think we have opinions about babies? Or someone at deathbed? Every individual is unique and cannot be judged for their innate selves. A criminal is punished for his crime which we treat as separate from him. His rights as human being are not withdrawn in jails. I am absolutely against capital punishment and see it as a failure on the part of our societies to help correct some seriously dysfunctional minds of people.
        Btw, did I ever tell you that your smiling face is so nice a thing to start a day? Sumana readily agreed :)
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          Apr 3 2013: Dear Pabitra,
          I have an opinion about babies....they are ALL cute and cuddly, honest, trusting, curious and unconditionally loving. What's your opinion about babies?

          I have spent time with several people who were actively dying. I observe that people often die as they live. If they lived life with joy and acceptance, they tend to be that way with the dying process as well. If people have lived life with frustration, struggle and complaint, that is how they are at the time of my humble observation.

          I have also worked with incarcerated offenders, and I see them as hurting children....adults with unresolved issues which often started in childhood.

          You have mentioned my smile on occasion:>) Hello to Sumana:>)

          Did I ever tell you that while I was unconscious in ICU, kept alive with life support systems, after the emergency craniotomy to put my head back together (sounds like humpty dumpty!!!), I'm told I was smiling and giving visitors a thumbs up? I guess I will die as I have lived....that is my personal opinion:>)
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        Apr 4 2013: As long as I have not seen or met, babies are pleasures - soft bundles of joy. But that's hardly an opinion about a baby. When seen, taken on lap or held in hands babies can be all those things you described or little devils who can put fingers in your eyes, shriek and startle you, cry like heaven fallen down or just wet your clothes. I seldom dislike babies but not overjoyed always either. These are emotions - not opinions my friend.
        The moment we attach an unreasoning emotional part of our mind with something, and it happens so easily with persons, we cannot have opinions on them.
        Yes you did tell me about your thumbs up :) I am so fond of you :D
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          Apr 5 2013: Pabitra,
          Perhaps babies are simply exploring when they put fingers in our eyes, talking when they "shriek" (this is their language when they are babies), and when they "wet your clothes", they are just doing what babies do....they don't know how to use the pottie yet!
          So, I don't perceive them as "little devils".

          You say..."The moment we attach an unreasoning emotional part of our mind with something, and it happens so easily with persons, we cannot have opinions on them."

          You do not believe emotion is part of opinion? I don't agree with this, because I perceive everything to be interconnected, including our processes of thinking and feeling. I don't see how emotion ('the effective aspect of consciousness; state of feeling"....from dictionary) can be seperate from opinion.

          You speak of "unreasoning emotional part". I perceive that reason/ logic/feeling/emotion can work all together. Yes? No? Maybe? It is just my simple perception and practice:>)

          I am fond of you too my friend:>)
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        Apr 11 2013: @Casey: A person is responsible and accountable for his/her actions (which includes behavior of course). We can have opinion about those actions but not the person. However, the person has to be adult and sane in mind for forming opinions.
        When the action borders on the criminal or adjudged criminal (under a fair trial), the person is sentenced for punishment. Unless it is capital punishment, which I am dead against, there is always hope for completing the punishment and the person becomes even with the civil society.
        I do not subscribe to the idea of 'sin' or 'eternal damnation' because I am not affiliated to any religious belief. I think a person can make a mistake, even a grave mistake, but there is always hope of correction and further life.
        A person is accountable and responsible by the standards of society; law, ethics or morality, and these are not absolute so they cannot be intrinsic to a person.
        Most importantly, I need to forgive persons and that urge is not so much selfless - I think it is personally necessary for me forgive persons whose actions harmed others. If I form an opinion about a person that becomes difficult. On the other hand, persons whose actions greatly benefited others, though laudable, are nothing special to me. They have just repayed the society that nurtured him/her.
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          Apr 15 2013: To Pabitra and Colleen,

          Thank you for your both thoughtful responses! I believe I have a much better understanding, respect, and appreciation for idea of "separating person from the behavior." And I even think you have made me realize that my own opinions of "separating person from the behavior" are similar to you, Pabitra, and Colleen.

          "I think a person can make a mistake, even a grave mistake, but there is always hope of correction and further life." > I am living proof!

          Colleen, you and your stories never cease to amaze me. And the more I read of your comments Pabitra, the more I think I will be amazed of you.

          P.S. Colleen, it feels good to have some time again to be back. :-)
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          Apr 15 2013: Casey,
          Thanks so much for that feedback. It feels good to have you back too:>)
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    Mar 29 2013: I think an opinion emerges from a mix of informations, feelings and memories because of a may be even unknown brain's function designand / or evolved for survival, long time ago. At present, human being uses this function for socialize and realte with other people; for letting them know how he/she feels or what would like to be known for. If we'd not be social beings, we'd not feel the need to inform others about us or our thoughts.
    It's not essential to have an opinion about everything, but it's very important to be able of having it when needed.
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      Mar 29 2013: Hi Sean:>)
      I agree that opinions form with a mix of information, including thoughts, feelings, experiences, and memories, as well as what information we choose to see, hear and embrace in every moment of our lives. I also agree that it is not essential to have an opinion about everything, and it's important to be able to have one when needed. For me, it is important to be clear about the information that helps form the opinions.

      It is a choice, and opinions can be formed on many different levels, perhaps dependant on the importance of the information and opinion we are considering? Awareness may prioritize our opinions, and contributes to our clarity regarding how, when, where, and with whom we share our opinions.

      Opinions, if strong enough CAN form the whole identity of a person, or at least that may be how it appears at times.
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        Mar 30 2013: Hi, Colleen. I agree with you. The second paragraph of your statement seems to me very interesant. And about the third one, I also agree; I'll add one more thing, very similar to what you've written: sometimes to have an opinion may oblige oneself to be coherent and correct. Because, sometimes, people'll know us only through our opinions, and I think they are like little pieces of us that we offer to others for knowing or getting into touch one with others.
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          Apr 2 2013: Hey Colleen and if I may, Hey Sean,

          I agree with you both. What we experience, etc helps shape our character which ultimately builds our morals and ethics in turn, giving us the ability to form opinions on topics. It is within this logic that I draw attention to the end of Colleen's first paragraph. "For me, it is important to be clear about the information that helps form the opinions". This I completely, whole heartedly, agree with. However, this can sometimes be the hardest thing to do as emotions can take over and sanity can leave mind as easy as a word can enter the ear.

          Also, Sean, I love that you highlight how people build opinions of others by judging the opinions we have shared. Very true!

          Thanks to you both
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          Apr 2 2013: Hey Thomas!
          If we are not clear in ourselves, we cannot be clear with others.....that's why I think/feel it is important:>)

          How can "emotions take over"? Who is guiding the emotions? It sounds like you are giving emotions a life of their own outside our "self"?
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    Apr 28 2013: I think opinions aren't something you have to try to form. It's something that just comes naturally within us. When we see something we automatically just have an opinion for it! Now we may not have a very strong opinion but I guess that's based on your definition of an opinion. I think an opinion is just your thoughts on something. If that's the case don't we just have an opinion on basically anything? From little things like what flowers you like to your political views. They're just there!
  • Apr 28 2013: I think the key point here is everything. We clearly do not have knowledge or questions about every possibility in the universe. So we definitely do not have an opinion about everything. However being inquisitive beings, we have the capability to have an opinion about everything. So I would answer no to both of your questions.

    When it comes to opinions it tends to be the answer to the question posed in some form. It might not be an answer directly to the question and instead we might form an answer as to why the question was asked. Our opinions are just answers to either lack of information or lack of integration. We build our opinions to build our identity. This identity allows us to integrate into society and the groups we want to be a part of.
  • MR T

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    Apr 27 2013: I despise indifference, having opinions gets people talking and the discussions that follow can shape how you view the world.
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    Apr 27 2013: If we're asked for an opinion, most people will endeavour to come up with one - whether it's an informed opinion is another matter.
  • Apr 27 2013: As long as there are any differences whatsoever, there will always be differences of opinion. No differences means equilibrium; equilibrium is death.
  • Apr 26 2013: I believe opinions are formed due to lack in knowledge on any given subject. I have to agree with Jacque Fresco in that we, as in all humans, use a language that is subject to interpretation. I don't believe opinions would really ever occur if everyone had a uniform language. Even on information we don't have yet. As Fresco states when an engineer puts a design up on the wall and says this is how this is formed. Another engineer won't say, well in my opinion it should go like this. The other engineer will offer either a valid or invalid alternative to which they use factual evidence to supply what is best for the design.
  • Apr 23 2013: I may or may not have an opinion on that.
    But the real question is: can I be bothered to take the time to formulate coherent thoughts on the subject and type them in for you all to enjoy or ridicule?
    Or am I prepared to put my preconceived notions on the line, just to have them shattered to bits by some chatroom troll?
    Do I really want to start something with the vocal, virulent minority? (Not that that happens here!)

    Really though, there are just too many issues out there to have opinions on everything. I only have so much brainspace!.
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    Apr 23 2013: Your ideas are your calling card. They are reflections of who you are. I would have to say that you should be receptive and open to everything but, practice what you are best at. This will aid and ensure your success.
    I don't know who first said this, if someone knows please tell me.
    Great minds talk about ideas
    Everage minds talk about events
    Small minds talk about people.

    I believe that it is so true. :)
  • Apr 22 2013: some times raely there is no idea about sth
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    Apr 20 2013: Hi Thomas,

    Your question leads to a new thought, does open mindedness lead us to individuality or band-wagoning, and where does happiness factor into our desire to share?
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    Apr 18 2013: We should have opinions only on things that forward our political postions. In which case no facts need to be supplied.
  • Apr 18 2013: Opinion is just an opinion, no more no less. Opinion is one of the steps of a ladder leading to the Knowledge.
  • Apr 18 2013: At the moment I am convinced, that opinion is part of the way the brain processes incoming information from your senses. And like seemingly always it is a gradual process. When you learn a information for the first time, this information becomes your opinion(a very fragile, wavering opinion), in time you gather more information concerning that topic (confirming your opinion) and you start to sort by what fits your existing believes (forming a world of opinions inside your head) or by what seems to make more sense judging from past experiences (to mention instinct). Hence to me an opinion is already there, you don't have to willingly decide to have an opinion on a topic, because also not choosing one side(to remain without opinion) is an opinion on that matter. In the end as I already stated on one of those 91 other comments I do not believe in ultimate truth, thus building my life and the way I think on opinions I am very fond of believing, knowing all the time that they are as true as they are false.

    I would looove to visit Japan in my future!
  • Jane S

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    Apr 18 2013: Let's define 'opinion'. I have a vague feeling about many topics but have thought through opinions about only a few. What is the hallmark of an actual opinion as opposed to bias?
  • Apr 16 2013: I believe it depends on the matter in hand.

    Every individual can have a formed opinion about the everyday life, his or hers family, the way he/she likes to do his or her´s job, the food that he or she loves to eat. These are examples.

    We are made to decide and therefore endure. We are also curious beings, and social ones.

    Of course if we were talking about a specific matter that we couldn´t understand, it wouldn´t be wise to express a public opinion. But I know very good people that do exactly this. :)
  • Apr 13 2013: YES.
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    Apr 13 2013: Thomas, I've just reread the last part of your explanation. Is it okay to infer that you are asking/assuming that when we share we are also developing our personalities?
    If so would you encourage sharing?
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    Apr 10 2013: we have not been exposed to everythhing therefore i do not believe we do. but let's play withe idea of us being exposed to everything, i would still think it would be hard on some subjects to come to a conclusion.
  • Apr 10 2013: You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.
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    Gord G

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    Apr 9 2013: As social animals I imagine our opinion is a matter of survival. We align ourselves with opinion to define the group that will protect our interests.
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    Apr 9 2013: I do think that people should have an opinion about everything, but whether that person's opinion is relevant is based on how that person developed the opinion, and their level of knowledge base on all of the alternative opinions on a set topic.
  • Apr 9 2013: You're asking for opinions about opinions?
    • Apr 9 2013: My opinion is "Facts about Opinions" is the goal.
  • Apr 8 2013: Assuming your question is on a philosophical/neuroscience level and not specific to a talk, here's my opinion:

    We are essentially an immortal soul that can best be described as an invisible free will. While alive, we can express our free will through our physical body within this physical world.

    At the heart of our existence is our identity. On our own we can have none except in relation to what came before us - the Divine Will we call God. Our relationship to God can either be friend or foe, and since He doesn't change that's entirely up to us. This 'friend of God' or 'enemy of God' then defines our identity.

    Upon the foundation of our identity (whichever we choose daily) is our purpose. A 'friend of God' seeks to immitate God and likewise an 'enemy' tries to prove that his will is above that of God - a doomed journey from the start in my opinion.

    Building upon our purpose is our value system or life rules - our world view. These self-regulating laws (Godly or Statnic) depend upon our understood purpose in life and we self enforce them in order to guide us safely to its fulfillment - and we only get one shot at it... one lifetime. These are our personal laws from which all (sober) choices are made.

    There's much more built upon this like our sense of authority within our self-defined laws, our power to realize and effect changes in others and the world around us based on the exercise of our God-given authority, and our dominion over the earth around us and our future wellness or sickness, prosperity or destruction, etc. But for the sake of your question, our world view mentioned before is enough to explain our motivition for sharing our opinions (if not declaring them as fact).

    In essence, anything that challenges our personal system of rules not only forces us to re-evaluate ourselves but drives us to do so emphatically and immediately. However, we remain silent on things that resonate poorly or otherwise do not challenge.

    What's your opinion? :o)
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    Apr 8 2013: Answer bluntly, no. I wouldn’t want an opinion to everything because in some aspects of life I very much so prefer my naivety. I wouldn’t want to have enough knowledge on certain things to be able to form an opinion on it in the first place.
    Although I do believe that without opinions, nothing would ever get achieved, developed or learnt. They are essential and something we all form for practically everything. Just some of us are too caught up in our busy lives to consciously processes are briefly formed opinion on the small things in life. This can in some cases be good as I’m sure some aspects of life aren't worthy of our precious brain activity. However sometimes I think too many of us don't stop and appreciate what is there; creating positive and grateful opinions of the simple and beautiful things in life. The opinions which seem to stick out are those of prejudice and judgemental hate, but what about the every day opinions? Maybe a recommendation for developing an opinion on how beautiful the stars look at night, or how green the grass grows, the elegance of a birds flights. However mushy it sounds, If they would good opinions, then I'd love it if we all had opinions on everything - but that is just my opinion on the matter!
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    Apr 7 2013: I guess we do have an opinion about most things, but definitely should not. But what is an opinion? It may be based on hard data, but it may also be just a pre-fixed feeling around the data that we verbalise, expand and make sound like a rational, convincing opinion. And both the feeling and a seemingly rational opinion may be a construct of confirmation bias, all that we've experienced, heard of, learnt, been subjected to or indoctrinated by in collision or conflict with what we think/feel. A product of the collision between the outside and the inside world.

    Maybe what is more interesting is - how do we change our fixed opinions and why? Based on what data? And - who provides the data? And how do we chose the Who?

    How we make our identity? We should identify it ourselves first, that define ourselves. And redefine and redefine again, when it's time. Before the age of global village our identity was that what was expected of us by the community, family, tribe. Now, most people need to do the job themselves which can be difficult and challenging.
    Sorry for the chaos in those thoughts :) I had no choice. Then again - it's just an opinion :)
  • Apr 6 2013: i think it's great to always have an opinion, though it's important to be constantly seeking knowledge so that your opinions are built on a stable foundation. opinions based on nothing are not only not worth having, they obfuscate your own understanding and are a detriment to any useful debate. be aware of what you don't know, and any shortfalls in the basis of any opinions you have.
  • Apr 6 2013: There's lot's of things I don't have an opinion about. For example, the existence of the multiverse. Seriously. In some areas you have to teach yourself to do away with opinions because they don't do any good. It's possible. Gun control may work or may not. I don't know. Other times I don't have an opinion because I just don't care. Like football teams. I don't favor any football team over the other simply because football isn't interesting to me.
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    May P

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    Apr 6 2013: I think we do have an opinion about everything, but our willingness to share varies dramatically. People suppress their opinions in various ways. Embarrassment, shyness, fear, uncertainty, etc. In my case, I often end up chiding myself: "hey, you don't know much about this subject, you can't have an opinion about it" and then questioning my own chide: "but, I can still have an opinion, I just should recognize that I don't know all the facts." It's a tricky issue.
  • Apr 5 2013: If a shrug of the shoulders with an upward to the left eye roll is allowed as an opinion (and it should be) then yes.
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    Apr 5 2013: Not really hey. Some things we just dont have the energy to think about
  • Apr 5 2013: Yes mankind has an opinion about everything.. The choice to an opinion is if you find the subject credible and if it has something to do with your morality and if its reasonable if that's the case the opinion will be positive. If its the opposite ofmorality and rreason the opinion about the subject will probably be negative

    Now the negative opinion can be expressed in certain ways

    Give your opinion but also tell them how it can be done so it will turn positive.

    Or just give the opinion and probably insult that person..

    Now the hardest thing to do for many is the know when to share their opinion..
    Sometimes opinions from the outside are needed but they need to be very good opinions in the first place.

    So yes we must share opinions to learn from each other

    And no we must not share at any given point to give an opinion.
    Learn when to speak and learn when to keep it to yourself
  • Apr 5 2013: I think we do have an opinion on everyone, it all depends on if we care to share and communicate it.

    People who could answer that they have no opinion on this topic also present an opinion, they don't care about the issue and don't think its important enough for them to take sides on which is also a kind of opinion that reflects their view on the topic.

    Our society encourages us to reserve opinions when presenting our opinions could harm our interests so it sometimes seem as though we have no opinion but when pressed a person will reluctantly and grudgingly voice their views on a subject.

    I think opinions form as a result of both conscious and subconscious levels because we can't really help but think as response to stimuli. the results that form our opinions are related to our experience, level of intelligence(different types of intelligence for different people and topics), imagination and of course objectivity(how does life places us in relation to a specific topic).
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      Apr 5 2013: Thanks Kate,

      I like how you believe we construct and finalise our opinions that are "true" for us. That makes a lot of sense.

      It's a pleasure to talk "with" you :)
  • Apr 2 2013: Good question. :-) Opinions are Beliefs. Listening is better than talking. Try offering NO opinion but rather inquire DEEPLY into the beliefs that the other is expounding on. Seek deeper and deeper understanding. From there, you begin to see the hollowness of beliefs. It's easier to see and understand with an actual enquiry :-). I don't know what this wisdom is your speaking of. Enquiry makes one aware of their vast does not lead to wisdom.
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      Apr 5 2013: Scott... I'm assuming this is a reply to a convo found somewhere below?! :)

      I agree we should inquire deeply to seek a deeper understanding. But, the "from there..." part I have to ask; are you saying we should search for hollowness or that it just shows itself as we inquire?

      If the questions get boring, let me know! lol
      • Apr 5 2013: :-) I like dialogue. When we dig seriously into a deep belief that we hold, while keeping the ego in check,, we discover either that the belief was false or greatly distorted. If its the latter, the process then begins on the revised belief. When enquiry is deeply serious, it's realized that much, if not most, of the "stuff" you thought was important before (your beliefs so to speak) are painfully trivial......hollow. If we make life about trivialities and Egoic dramas, there's little juice left to investigate Ourselves and life......we don't really know who we are. Enquiry takes great effort. It requires reat desire that trumps all other desires. The desire to truly Know yourself. For many, it's too much and they flip the tv on, drink, or whatever to zone out in the general direction of Wholeness. Through enquiry, most things are found to be illusory and exist only in the thoughts of our minds.

        Question for you: would you say you hold many of the same Beliefs today as you did 10 years ago? Would you say, upon investigation, that you are the same Person you were 10 years ago?

        Damn, I can get preachy.
        Nice night.
  • Mar 31 2013: we all have an opinion on everything whether we know of the idea or not it's because your predetermined beliefs that you form an opinion based from your perspective that is developed from how you were raised and what beliefs you chose to accept as your own
    • Apr 1 2013: So what is your opinion about the proposed city water system here in Rutledge, Minnesota?
      • Apr 1 2013: water is good so i say go for it haha it isn't the answer you were looking for but it's still an opinion
  • Mar 30 2013: Lol,of course it is better we shouldn't.Trying to observe as much as you can but judge reckless.
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    Mar 29 2013: I would say all people have an opinion on all matters, although in many cases it may be barely formed since there has never been a reason for them to strongly put their opinion into words.
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      Apr 2 2013: hey Greg! thanks for the contribution...

      Any idea what that reason may be?
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        Apr 3 2013: It seems to be our physiology that we react to everything that goes on around us or that is brought to our attention. It's hard to put into words, it's a fundamental awareness that is very close to actually being alive itself.