Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Often the less someone knows about a subject, the bigger is their opinion.

Often the less someone knows about a subject, the bigger is their opinion.

Steve Martin, in one of his early comedy routines, responded to the question, "Steve is there some way, I can be funny, too?". One of his sarcastic suggestions was to "criticize things you don't know about".

There is a big difference between facts, opinions, and beliefs:

And, there is a big difference between being opinionated. And having an opinion, being opinioned.

opinion noun
1. A subjective thought that a person has formed about a topic or issue.

opinionated adjective
1. Holding to one's own opinion, obstinately, stubbornly and unreasonable, unreasonably.

What I've concluded over the last few years, is that often the more ignorant someone is about a subject, the bigger is their opinion!

This is seen in lots of places. People have really strong opinions on:
- alternative energy they have no experience with, or knowledge of
- economics
- movies they have never seen, often based on who is acting / producing / directing / involved
- countries they have never been to
- cultures they have never studied, or people they have never met
- food they have never tasted
- etc.

Just try reading some of the nasty feedback on articles found at finance.yahoo.com. People attack the writers personally, ferociously, call him/her names, and stereotype them. That is, rather than responding with facts that would dispute the subject matter. It seems that the internet often brings out the worst in people.

I think a lot of ignorant opinions are sometimes formed based on tiny bits of information that have been presented through the media. The media can put a slight spin on the subject, or at the other extreme, have a very real bias. In the media, often opinions, or beliefs are presented as "facts". If you search the internet for media bias, you will find lots of information on the subject.

Note how on television, there are a lot of opinion based shows, such as Hardball. Complex subjects are presented in quick soundbites, as if you could master or just present an entire first year university course in as few minutes! Few facts are presented. Instead you see lots and lots of very strong opinionated views from opposing sides! As if the one who believes or presents the strongest opinion is "right". It's bizarre. Why not debate whether the planet Pluto exists in the same manner?

I would like to see a new reality show. Opinionated participants would be told that they had been selected to give thoughts on "their subject". But first, to qualify, as a "screen test", they would have their knowledge tested. They would be filmed as they were asked about pertinent knowledge on the subject. Later, they would be filmed when they were given the "test results", and told the real truth by subject matter experts. I'm convinced that most people would fail the tests miserably, and be completely unqualified to talk about the subject at all.

The subject matter of some websites that I've read, are often subjects that people aren't very familiar with. Yet many have very strong opinions about them. So I hope people will actually read or watch the links all the way through, before expressing any opinions. And that they will respond with facts and intelligent conversation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chris Martenson Crash Course

I've been referring to everyone the Chris Martenson Crash Course.


The subjects covered in here, have profound implications for all of us. It is very, very, well researched, by a scientist with a PhD.

Chris says: the next twenty years are going to look very different from the last twenty years. He covers exponential functions, economics, energy, and environment.

I was so impressed with what I saw on the website, that I took a flight to Massachusetts to see his conference in January 2009. This is not just highly recommended; I think it should be required reading for anyone and everyone.

See one his presentations on economic bubbles, such as the tech, and real estate bubbles, here:

Check out the whole (free) online course here: