Every year, at this time, I promise myself, “I will not talk to anyone about sports today, I will not talk to anyone about sports today, I will not talk to anyone about sports today.” When I buy my weekly groceries, the clerks checking me out and bagging my groceries ask me what my plans are for “the big day,” or who I’m rooting for. When I smile weakly at them, hurriedly grabbing my purchased items, and close our transaction with a graceful goodbye, they give me a tacit nod. “Oh, you tryin’ to get home so you can watch the game! Have fun!!” I swallow their assumption until I can deeply exhale disdain behind the steering wheel.
Every year, at this time, I recall being berated and abandoned in nearly every context in which I criticized NFL football to a stranger or acquaintance. Growing up in Northeast Texas ensured that these ruptures would occur frequently. Discussing my disgust with tomorrow’s (tax-subsidized) unofficial national holiday almost always results in long-term separation from those who have not been trained to differentiate logical argument from belief.
Question a person’s most deeply held traditions or entertainment and prepare for psychological warfare via epistemological gaslighting. When one refuses to acknowledge the systemic effects of football, they are quite happy to point out that my views are isolated and exceptional (e.g. that’s just your individual opinion, to each their own), yet throughout the same conversation they will argue that my critique signifies ‘overthinking,’ ‘lack of openness,’ ‘absolutist thinking,’ or some ego-maniacal pomp. I always wonder…if the view didn’t convey some relative measure of truth, why do they feel so emotionally invested in dismissing it entirely?
Our social practices are personal and emotional. To suggest that these rituals cause injury, litter, pollution, and economic stratification, as well as perpetuate racial stereotyping, gender separatism, homophobia, tribalism, and xenophobia is to potentially rip a person away from their memory and networks. Such an attachment nearly eliminates occasions for argument among strangers. Outside the classroom space, one wonders about the capital of logic. Doesn’t matter how much you qualify and contextualize your claims, doesn’t matter what kind of evidence you present, doesn’t matter how much you concede, or how explicitly you acknowledge that you are making an opinion, not stating an empirical fact, the religiosity of sports and capitalism makes most critiques of either akin to heresy.
Intelligence is a value when a person seeks arousal or utility. But when intelligence leaks into domains that desperately need transformation (to move towards a resolution of major social problems), it is a nuisance. It is the devil. It is inconvenient and trite. Intelligence is as a whore in the night, desperately desired to remember and express one’s vitality, but deeply resented when she calls you in the middle of the night while you are in bed with a steady partner.
The accusation of “overthinking” is a cowardly act. I used to be taken aback when someone said this to me, and would think to myself, “So I should be underthinking? Not thinking? That’s really no good.” Lately, I recognize this character assault as someone else’s cover up. To categorize another person as being caught in the act of “overthinking,” is to admit to an impotence of one’s own. If one is accused of “overthinking,” the accuser gets to abandon any and all responsibility for identifying and responding to complexity. The accuser must, at some point, have realized that to (appear to) “overthink,” may result in a loss of a major dual privilege–being recognized and asserting recognition in the dominant social narrative. Mindlessly consuming things, and the ability to dismiss any possibility that individuals/consumers are not the sole authors of their lives, are at least two rewards of this participation The cost/benefit of inclusion is this refusal to think about thought-making, as a matter of identity and principle. This choice is rationalized/legitimized by an overwhelming social acceptance of cognitive dissonance regarding conflicting values of enlightenment and primitivism, rationality and irrationality, emotions as equal to or inferior to logic.
Our capacity to discuss intelligence dissolves when we attempt to communicate complexity. Trapped in a tautology, it seems impossible to simultaneously acknowledge that we are, as individual agents, unable to convey the relativity of truth and knowing at the same time as we are offering an interpretation that implies some truths are “more or less” true (and beneficial, and harmful) than others. In other words, many truths are relative, indeed, but one of the truths that is part of that plural configuration is the fact that not all truths carry equal weight as useful or accurate opinions. Yeah, I am cosmosplaining (#notalltruth). But it does not follow that any opinion can be disentangled from the world of facts upon our discovery of its weakness or lack of contextual relevance.
An opinion is a belief because it is a claim to truth (that can obviously be disputed).
- Beliefs, in essence, are truths insomuch as I cannot dispute your claim to truth.
- As soon as you claim a truth, it becomes a fact.
- Claiming a truth is an act, something I can observe because I make memories of arguments since specific actions were directed towards discussing the fact of a thing in a time and space are happening.
Opinions can be wrong because they can be lies. Thus, a belief can be a lie.
- A person can believe in a lie, whether or not they know it’s a lie.
- Believing in a lie, however, is not necessarily the same thing as believing the lie.
- The (rhetorical) character and power of lies is the problem of faith as true.
- Example 1: I may really believe in education as a public good, but I don’t think higher-education should be compulsory or free to those who wish to attend. [education as a public good is often disputed in terms of access (who does and doesn’t deserve education) or funding (its a good thing, but there isn’t enough money to go around)].
- Example 2: I may really believe in fairness because of the fact that I see unfairness. By contrast, I may believe in fairness as a fact of the environment (e.g. a person who refuses to acknowledge racism and sexism because those practices are ‘over’. Fairness has arrived. It exists). In this case, two people claim to believe in the same thing, but have two different conceptualizations of how to observe or measure actions and phenomena which are fair.
- The (rhetorical) character and power of lies is the problem of faith as true.
- Lying is an act that conceals the truth, which will affect future actions of speech and communication (e.g. possibilities)
- The purposes of lying are part of the processes for discovering truth(s). The primary purpose of lying is to conceal for some other purpose, rarely for the sake of concealing in and of itself.
- The fact of concealment is also the fact of an inevitable reveal, which may occur in unforeseen contexts. This is why I am interested in information leaks. Leaks are a vivid example of someone’s deliberate act of concealment. The lie, like the leak, is a trace of that performance. If I detect a performance, I can become aware that something is hidden, absent, or false. These observations guide my method of uncovering truth and seeing the lie for what it is–an act of concealment.
- Purposes cannot be false. Insomuch as lying has the potential of revealing truth, lying is connected to truth by virtue of its production and what it is capable of producing.
- Communication is always a creative act, but is not always recognized as a performance about the art of storytelling.
- Concealing is part of the narrative process, but this action may or may not always be deliberate, conscious, or visible.
- Arguing, then, is one method of attempting to observing the blurry lines between lying and telling the truth.
- As performances, lies could be interpreted as “true” because they may be representing the way truth “appears” in a context. Through deliberation about acts of language, which itself is a performance, acts of lying and telling the truth can be observed as the cause of drama. These performances demand that each participant’s manner of presenting truth ought to be judged against the contents of their presentation.
Opinions can also be wrong because they are simply false.
- In some instances, a person avoids confrontation by stating the false resolution, “Let’s agree to disagree,” which probably means, “Let’s continue to behave as if we are both correct even though we will most certainly continue to clash in ways that harm us both.”
The tricky part about arguing is that a lie isn’t the truth, but the fact of a lie isn’t false.
Regardless of the extent of its inaccuracy, the truth of opinions is that a person’s partial view will inevitably lead to the presentation of a claim that could be disputed in many instances, especially unfamiliar social and institutional environments. When arguments get to the hard stuff of expanding one’s partial view, or learning a new language entirely, the attachment to being instead of transforming results in the embrace of lies. “Let’s just agree to disagree” (Truthseeking ain’t worth me sacrificing delicious wings and all of the amazing stories that were told on the worn out couch with my brothers, uncles, and cousins). “That’s just YOUR opinion.” (I need to make you feel so isolated in your own mind that you realize the social consequences of challenging the status quo. The more lonely you are, the more crazy you’ll feel, the less power you’ll have, and the more likely you’ll just keep your mouth shut about that.)
For those who understand the tensions between relativity/context/truth as a fundamental problem of people lying, argumentation places an unnecessary burden on you. Some claims seem true because humans definitely lie about lying…For instance, we see this when someone’s backs away from an argument by conceding that the whole process was meaningless because it’s “just YOUR opinion,” even though YOUR opinion stirred their emotion to the point of anger and caused them to mistrust you and seek some means of severing your cognitive bond. Since the fact of opinion is that an individual lies claim to an interpretation of observation of fact happening in a shared context, we will always be connected to other people, systems, places, and the physics of our galaxy.
Of course, expressing intelligence is part of the hard work of actually dealing with complexity. Regardless of the domain of life we dwell–whether scientific, artistic, or mystical–we all swim in the stormy turgid waters of language. Epistemology is, of course, inextricably tied to the problem of language. In a world where web 2.0 users unhesitatingly toss around opinions without consideration of their weight, we need more precise ways of talking about what we are really doing and need to be willing to get into the heavy stuff.
An opinion is a judgment, and all judgments are not equal. Some are too harsh, too lax, too biased, and so on. Get like Goldilocks, and let em’ know about that porridge. And if she wrote the story, she might have told us it needed cinnamon, sugar, salt, honey, fruit, and all that!