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Please begin with an informative title:

Shamash said

Everyone is allowed to have an opinion, but that does not mean you have any experience to speak authoritatively on the issue.
and I kind of agree with that.

I am an opinionated old woman.

An opinion is defined as:  A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge (dictionary.com), and also as a belief that's stronger than an impression and less strong than positive knowledge (merriam-webster.com), and also as  a belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof. (freedictionary.com)

What these definitions all have in common is that an opinion, while strongly held, is not commonly based on knowledge.  It is often an emotional or visceral response to events.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

And that means that while we can certainly express our opinions we need to be aware that there is a body of solid fact and knowledge out there that may contradict how we feel about events.

Feelings, however strongly held, are not facts.

Opinions, however strongly held, are not knowledge.

As an opinionated old woman, I am more than happy to plug my 2 cents in (or is it worth a dime now, what with inflation?  Naw, opinions are still pennies...). But, knowing my opinions are just that - opinions - I am equally happy to revise those opinions based on new information, maybe even upgrade to slightly informed.  

Opinions are not engraved in stone, and we shouldn't treat them as such.  They are fluid, flexible, changing as new information and new circumstances arrive.

Facts rarely change.  They remain the facts whether other people believe in them or not, and regardless of how people feel about them.  

Opinions change and adapt depending upon the holder's feelings and beliefs.

I try my best not to conflate opinions with facts. When I start with "I believe...", "I feel...", or "I think....", chances are, I'm expressing an opinion.  When I start with, "According to...", "Based on...", "I know...", and sometimes, "In my experience...", I am generally presenting facts. If feelings are involved, most of the time, it's opinion, and subject to change.

When my children were smaller than me (not long really, all but my youngest outgrew me by the time they were 8 years old), I never once told them "Because I said so" no matter how tempting it was to end the discussion that way.  What I did was challenged them to look it up and see for themselves.  I started this when they were old enough to start asking questions, and they learned to read really early as a result just so they could try to prove me wrong.

Them: "Why do I have to go to bed early?"

Me: "Let's look it up - here's a medical manual that explains the sleep needs of a 14 month old.  What does it say?  Here, read with me:  Children aged 12 to 18 months old need 11 hours and 45 minutes of sleep a day..."

Them:  "Why?"

Me:  "Let's keep reading ... to help with brain development and to allow for growth." I put the book down and then tell them, "That makes you smart, healthy, and big. Do you want to be smart, healthy, and big?"

They say yes, and so they went to bed.

And we did this for everything.  They were reading newspapers, encyclopedias, and dictionaries by the time they were 4 years old.  Even now, when they ask me a question they know they can find the answer to by looking it up, they'll cut themselves off and say, "I'll look it up!"  The internet has actually made that faster and more fun.  It's not uncommon to see us all on our various computers looking up information to refute a statement or to bolster an argument.

Opinions are quickly altered when facts come into play, although sometimes, feelings are so strong, they trump the facts. We end up admitting it's an opinion, and that we feel strongly enough that only overwhelming facts could sway us.  If the facts aren't that strong, then opinion trumps fact.  That happens so rarely, though, and usually only with food.  Coffee is bad for some people, but not others, therefore opinions on drinking coffee trumps the facts. Ditto for tea, wine, potatoes, rice, gluten, etc.  The only time we concede on food arguments is when allergies or health conditions come into play.

With a diverse family like mine, I couldn't be the authority figure.  My role was best exemplified by being the reference librarian - the "let's look it up" saved my - we'll go with status - so many times. 6 of my 8 children came to me as older children and oy! the arguments we had - I wasn't their original mom and if I tried to be the mom, they'd call me on it.  But librarian?  They loved the librarian.

I bought encyclopedias and dictionaries, and when computers got cheap enough to buy one, we shared that (one computer - 7 people, we managed!). With so many teens in the house, we were chin deep in opinions. We added facts, and eventually developed a body of knowledge.

Things haven't changed much since they grew up.

EDITED TO ADD:  rserven added in a comment:  

being knowledgable on one subject does not preclude a person from being knowledgable on other subjects.
That is so true.  I consider myself an expert on herbs and steampunk and hearing assistance dogs and fairy tales.  I'm pretty knowledgeable about a lot of other things and can engage in intelligent conversation on many of them, but I am not an expert. Informed citizen, perhaps. That includes the topics on which my children are experts -even though I was in the military (decades ago!), I am no expert on today's military, my children who are in service know far more than I do with my outdated info.  I have a child who is a forensic anthropologist - we can't watch crime shows together because they are often so wrong she spends the whole episode online showing me how wrong they are.  I am highly informed about forensic anthropology, but no authority by any means.  I have a child who is a planetologist.  While I know enough to follow him when he dives into talking passionately about rock formations, geologic tectonics, corona formations, etc., I can follow along (barely, but I'm there!), I am so far from an expert! But his knowledge of planetary functions in no way detracts from my knowledge on herbs or fairy tales.  And my knowledge of steampunk in no way diminishes my daughter's knowledge of forensic anthropology.

There's so much knowledge in the world that none of us has the time to become on expert in every aspect of it, but we can each have our niche - and listen to others in their niches as they listen to us.

As a result, sometimes, I feel like I've become an authority on opinions.

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