Monday, October 28, 2013

In my volatile opinion

A recent US study, conducted by a leading university research institute, has revealed a clear link between the mating rituals of blue monkeys and Caucasian elderly couples.

Whoa! What! Okay, let's just stop it right there. What has just happened (hopefully) is that I have used the little authority I have as an aspiring science writer and columnist to imprint an idea in your head which has the potential to evolve into an opinion, part of which, will define you and be your weapon in your next battle of the wits.

As the title of this column suggests, I have a very volatile opinion on just about everything. This is because of all the 'excessive' reading and viewing of National Geographic Channel that I subject my puny brain to. My opinion on any given topic, from The Big Bang Theory to World politics, changes as much as my exposure to new info continues.

Now, I am among the lucky few who let the availability of reliable information shape my opinion. There are some others who have stubborn tendencies that when their opinions are attacked, go into defense-mode and take these challenges personally, as gratuitous attacks on their person. God bless their poor souls. A great example being Young Earth Creationists who maintain the age of the universe is no more than 10 000 years despite the overwhelming evidence contradicting this notion.

Some people want to keep their opinions as they have made them part of their identity and in this way keep them through a misguided attempt at self-preservation. This, in my opinion can be very dangerous in cases where the person harboring this false opinion is in  an authoritative position in that his opinion can get viral and infect a whole community and in the worst cases put people's lives in danger.

Whilst that last statement may seem a bit dramatic, it begs that I paraphrase an example I made in a previous column. Remember the doctor who falsely stated a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in children? Well, as stated before, his legacy lingers on even today, as many parents in the UK and the States are reluctant to take their kids to be immunized. Many only find the flaw in their ways when their kids succumb to the preventable diseases the vaccine is meant to guard against.

As many false opinions are generated, this one originated from a qualified medical practitioner who wrote a scientific paper on his findings. And what's a layman to do when an expert says stuff like this? Advertisers use the same principles to market some products during those daytime infomercials.

Another notable example is the inclusion of climate change deniers in the US government. This may not seem like much but the policies that come from that country influence the rest of the world in terms of climate change. As it has already been shown, climate change is real and those who are in line to suffer most from it are those who contribute to it the least.

Our opinions on the world we live in influence the way we do things. Whether it might be deciding on the quickest route home or casting that all important vote, it is not hard to imagine how all these things can have lasting implications on the way we live. It is advisable that one takes all informational stimulus with a pinch of salt

If one should take away anything from this column, it is that you should not believe a word of it. That said, I hope you don't pin anything on me when you lose an argument over something I've said when you find out it isn't the truth. Oh, and by the way, that first statement is a pile of hogwash. I used it to make my point.

Post column: do not believe everything you read or see, except this statement.

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