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That's Not Your Opinion

Have you ever been having a conversation that goes something like this? Them: 2+2=3 You: No, you see 2+2=4 Them: Well, in my opinion 2+2=3

People use “it’s my opinion” to defend all sorts of silliness. Even NewsThump have written about it

First of all, people use “it’s my opinion” to defend things that are not opinions at all, rather they’re factually incorrect statements. It is not your opinion that Trump won the 2020 election, Trump did not win the 2020 election, you see we have this thing called objective reality, and as part of that objective reality we can assess facts like how many votes did different candidates receive during an election, and from those assessments make determinations of what objective reality is. Saying anything about the simple result of an election isn’t an opinion, it’s either a retelling of objective reality, or it’s divorced from reality nonsense.

Secondly, people will use “it’s my opinion” to defend statements which while opinions, aren’t particularly notable ones. If I had an opinion about something I don’t know very much about like thoracic surgery, so what? Yes, it might be my opinion that the incision to repair an aortic dissection should be made between the 4th and 5th ribs, but not being a thoracic or vascular surgeon, or anyone else who might know anything about this, so what? It is indeed my opinion, but it’s one based on no knowledge whatsoever, and is probably wrong. You see just like objective reality, we can compile an evidence base about how to carry out aortic dissection repairs and make good decisions based on the evidence, not simply opinions.

Thirdly, there are people who use “it’s my opinion” to defend awful and immoral opinions. It’s my opinion that basturma is delicious, and how delicious I find it exceeds how much I care about the treatment of the animal which was slaughtered to provide it. This is quite legitimately my opinion, and I am of course free to decide what value I place on contradicting trade-offs, but the fact that it’s my opinion doesn’t mean a vegan would find me less reprehensible for holding it. There are equally other opinions that other people might hold which I hold abhorrent, and the fact they are opinions doesn’t exempt anyone from judgement for holding them.

And here are cases where being an opinion truly is a cast iron defense. Do you like football or hockey? Do you think tofu is delicious, or bland and tasteless? Do you like listening to Toto or Jay-Z? All of these are opinions, and yes, they’re entirely neutral opinions. You don’t get to question the reality of how I enjoy sport, food, or music, I enjoy these things, and no one else can deny them. Sure, there might be some ethical concerns with financially supporting the sports leagues, foods or musicians, but in terms of whether I do enjoy them in and of themselves? No, that’s an entirely acceptable opinion to have.

In conclusion, before saying something is only your opinion. Check whether it actually is an opinion, and whether it matters if it’s an opinion or not.

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