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EXOTEC Posts: 3,327
2/3/14 9:46 A

Great topic!
Yes, my opinions are almost exclusively my own. I come to them by listening to (or reading) others, researching what's said, weighing it against what I already believe - and stringently testing new concepts against my already-held beliefs to see if the new information will hold up under wide parameters. If the new is superior to the old, I will modify to suit.

I find it a distinct sign of intelligence that someone is willing - not reluctant! - to say "I don't know", or "I may have been wrong about...", or "perhaps this improves..." - fill in the blanks. For a person to stubbornly hold to opinions (their own OR others') simply because that's what they've always done is sure indication IMHO that they are either afraid to challenge their own thought processes, or maybe just incapable of making that leap. Some folks are really afraid of change, and so can't look at anything outside their comfort zone. But I cease to take them seriously once I've discovered that, because I'm avidly and always seeking new information to broaden my world view. Sometimes I'm wrong! and when I find it out (hopefully before I've acted upon it) I again change to correct that misstep.

I am particularly disturbed when someone quotes some popular media figure: sports players, actors/actresses, TV personalities, print media of popular content, sometimes even supposedly "unbiased" reporting (which we all know is a ridiculous notion), and ESPECIALLY our political or judicial "leaders". I have no issue with any of those individuals possibly having some truth or wisdom to impart. But to simply quote someone else's opinions and leave it at that because you like or trust them... well. It's mental orphanage, so far as I'm concerned. I feel no one has a right to an opinion if they haven't at least rubbed a couple brain cells against each other to arrive at it.

This applies to a lot of research, too. New studies, old studies, interpretations of old studies in new ways... we rely upon a lot of things which we should be questioning. When a new idea is being considered, and it begins based upon that old data - which in many cases was flawed or biased even when it was originally developed - the new data isn't even worth reading. An "if/then" conclusion is impossible if the "if" is invalid. A great preponderance of research, and even personal opinions, fall into this unfortunate category. And then you have those aforementioned individuals who can't or won't venture out of their comfort zones, and rabidly defend those outdated beliefs, or at least refuse to consider the possibilities of new ones because the new doesn't (and can't) agree with the old. The worst part is that many of the people maintaining this sort of status quo are the very ones we look to for reliable, respectable, informed recommendations to guide us. We don't look beyond the credentials... and the credentialed "experts" frequently don't look beyond the old standards. If you go outside that loop, you're heretic, or at least looked upon with scorn because you deviate from "common wisdom". It frustrates and saddens me. What happened to intelligence? Why did we decide it's no longer an individual responsibility to think?

In conversations like this, I'm always reminded of an article or column by Ann Landers. A reader wrote in to ask why it was important to always cut a large roast in half before roasting it. Her mother had taught her to do so, and she'd spent quite a good many years following her mother's advice - and while her roasts always came out well, she didn't quite understand why cutting it made it so. Ann had no good answer for her. She suggested she go back to her mother and ask her. So she did. What she found was, her mother told her... "Well, when your father and I were newlyweds, we lived in a tiny little apartment with only a very small oven. A full-sized roast wouldn't fit inside. So I always cut it and divided it between two smaller pans to make it fit." And so this woman, with all the best intentions, had been faithfully following that good advice for however many years it had been, never looking beyond the obvious of "how it's always been done".

How many of us are still cutting our roasts in half when we put them in our ovens?


Edited by: EXOTEC at: 2/3/2014 (09:50)
2/3/14 9:08 A

@John: yeah, I believe that when I originally wrote this thread I was referring to people who tend to not research political material and just repeat what political talking heads say on the radio or cable news shows and take their word for it rather than formulate their own opinion.

JOHN_SKIM Posts: 216
2/3/14 1:40 A

If you go to the bottom It is impossible to be. Since I was born the whole world has had influence on me.

UMBILICAL Posts: 12,786
7/19/13 7:24 P

Yes, but gathered from many sources.

ITSABSURD SparkPoints: (18,393)
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7/19/13 6:59 P

I'm pretty opinionated and come to my conclusions on my own...

SCHEALTHNUTT SparkPoints: (49,055)
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7/19/13 4:24 P

Oh yes!

EXOTEC Posts: 3,327
7/19/13 4:17 P

Yes, my opinions are ALWAYS my own. That doesn't mean I haven't formed them with information I've gleaned from every available resource. That means print info, others' opinions, testing my assumptions in reality, posing them against philosophical thinking... every possible resource I can find. Then I form my own opinion. And reform it. And maybe throw it out and start again from a different perspective.

I not only welcome, but *need* others' input. A respectful debate is absolutely crucial to me. It insults and frustrates me when someone will shy away from a "hot topic" because there's some social conundrum associated with it. I have no intention to try to change their views; I will, however, question them deeply and persistently, trying to understand the what and why, and how it might apply to my life. Sometimes that means I hypothesize a situation where they would have to apply their opinion, to see if it holds up to pressure. This, as you might imagine, creates some stress for them, and I think it might be interpreted as "argumentive," which it isn't. Not from MY side, at least. I'm just enquiring. I need to know!

We all think and learn in widely differing ways. For those interested in such things, and perhaps haven't heard of it, I strongly encourage you to look up something called the "MBTI" Personality Type test. It gives great insight into who you are, why you're the way you are, and also opens doors into the personalities of others in your circles; that in itself can be such a great benefit. We tend to judge by who we are, and how we think... but different types come at the world from wholly different perspectives. "Different" isn't "wrong." But it *can* be wrong to make assumptions about others because we can't or don't understand them. Please give it a look!

ERINTFG SparkPoints: (45,448)
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7/18/13 1:53 P

I used to be pretty opinionated, but the older I get the more reluctant I am to share my opinion on a LOT of things, because the more I learn the more I realize I need to learn more. LOL

So a lot of times I just keep my mouth shut and try to learn from those around me.

Now there ARE things that I DO know a lot about, and I will share my opinion about those things. But most of the hot-button topics of our day I just don't feel like debating, either because I dislike arguments, or because I really don't feel like I know enough to defend my position. And yeah, people who spew forth a bunch of opinionated nonsense but are unable to support it, they are a pet peeve of mine. I try VERY hard not be like that.

(Also, I think in a world like this, where we have the opportunity via the internet to become friends and acquaintances with people who are very different from us, it is wise to learn early the fine art of keeping one's mouth shut, or one's fingers still, as it were. There is a time and a place for debate. Your mother-in-law's facebook page probably isn't it. LOL)

GRANDMAFRANNY SparkPoints: (375,668)
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7/18/13 10:33 A


LOUIE-LILY Posts: 5,026
7/18/13 9:35 A

IMHO, yes - but I am influenced by others I respect.

BOB5148 SparkPoints: (482,443)
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7/18/13 9:30 A


7/18/13 8:44 A

"Critical Thinking" skills is what's required to formulate intelligent opinions. This skill has been set aside in schools for standardized testing based lesson plans. Discussion is considered a waste of time in the classroom these days (in my opinion), lots of teaching to the test is the new lesson plan of this generation (again, my opinion).

SUZIEQUE77 SparkPoints: (9,271)
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7/18/13 8:15 A

This is a deep topic! I can relate to what Amandaraqs said. I recognize for most complicated world topics, I don't have all the facts and I usually state that while even expressing my view point. If someone can show me other facts, yes I am absolutely open to changing that view point.

As someone here said, there are some opinions that make no difference at all. like which pair of shoes would be best to wear to a specific wedding.

But in politics and "hot topic" items, I know a lot of people who seem to choose sides and really don't even seem to want to hear any facts that might be counter to the opinion already formed. They even take the first set of supposed facts or information they hear or read from somewhere, that supports their already formed view, and go with that, shutting out any information that might come forward, calling that new information lies and bias if it is somehow forced upon them to hear or read it. I recall as a child, being taught to really consider things with as much information as possible in order to form an intelligent opinion. I have never been one to go along with the crowd or agree with "collective" views of any specific group. I will hear what the group has to say, and consider any outside knowledge I have about the topic, before forming an opinion of my own. If I feel there is not enough information to form an opinion, then I don't form an opinion.

I work in the field of academia and what drives me crazy is that I don't see most acedemics that I work with as open minded people. Many seem to jump to these polorized views as much or more so than the general public, and as I mentioned before, they don't seem to be open to considering information that is counter to the view they have already formed.

GRACED777 Posts: 4,348
7/18/13 7:59 A

If the matter in question is important to me. If not I can go with the flow.

7/18/13 7:27 A

I agree with DWROBERGE, if you ain't got nothing "NICE" to say don't say it all.

KIRSTENCO SparkPoints: (11,539)
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7/18/13 4:28 A

I always say how I feel or what I think. But I'm not scared to change my mind, if new facts come to light...

FIRECOM SparkPoints: (0)
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7/18/13 2:05 A

Yes, but I always listen to all sides.

DWROBERGE Posts: 343,018
7/17/13 11:17 P


SCHEALTHNUTT SparkPoints: (49,055)
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7/17/13 11:56 A

Yes, like it or not !!!!

TRYINGTOLOSE64 Posts: 93,051
7/17/13 6:25 A

pretty much

SPERRIN2012 SparkPoints: (181,188)
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7/16/13 9:47 P

Pretty much

STRONGERLEANER SparkPoints: (172,206)
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7/16/13 9:04 P

I think sometimes I am inclined to go with the flow, especially if I don't really care about a topic one way or the other.

I also think I'm pretty open-minded but I do have certain issues on which I have very strong opinions.

For the most part, I think I can still be friends with people even if we have different opinions. No one is going to agree with anyone ALL the time.

GUDDIGO Posts: 1,081
7/16/13 10:11 A

Yes...but I do consider what others are saying

BLUENOSE63 SparkPoints: (108,021)
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7/16/13 8:02 A

Yes it is! IT may not be the opinion that people are happy to embrace but I believe that a difference of opinion often leads to a solution that all parties are comfortable with in the long run.

7/16/13 8:02 A

Did the presidential election debates bore anybody else into a coma?
I do find listening to different opinions interesting, because it gives me glimpses of the person inside. Which opinion do they defend, how do they do it, what gets them riled? I am more interested in the heart of the person than what they are sprouting, normally.
Facts change all the time. It is silly to get married to an opinion, that will definitely change.
Having said that, I have a mind that is notoriously hard to change about some things.
I am always eager to listen to people who have first hand, lived through it experience. That is the best kind, even if I do not hold the same opinion.

1DRWOMAN Posts: 2,151
7/16/13 7:19 A

Yup! Always have been! Even when I was little my Oma would tell me not to share my opinions and thoughts because they were never like anyone else's...I was always proud of that! :) I definitely speak my mind and its usually against the current of the majority

7/16/13 6:44 A

I don't know if it is truly my own but I try to express what I believe

TENNISJIM Posts: 11,750
7/16/13 6:07 A

yes, my opinions are my own -- sometimes I get in trouble for speaking out

ROXYCARIN SparkPoints: (95,965)
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7/16/13 4:25 A

emoticon yes, most of the time

DWROBERGE Posts: 343,018
7/16/13 2:06 A


TACDGB Posts: 6,136
7/15/13 6:34 P

For me hot topic discussions are the ones that my heart are passionate about. I could go on and on for hours about child abuse. Or I could go on about religion (it's different that loving Jesus). But things like politics are not a subject I want to chat about much. So for me it depends on the hot topic. I believe that everyone has a right to their own opinion but I also have a right to mine.

TCANNO SparkPoints: (330,120)
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7/15/13 6:16 P

Sometimes its what I have read
Just like the rest of us, I did not know it all

GEVANS7 SparkPoints: (269,158)
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7/15/13 5:50 P

I have my own opinions but I will not get into debates. Some people love to argue for the sake of getting on a soapbox and holding court. Nope - not interested. Life is too short.

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
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7/15/13 1:25 P

To be fair, when you're in school, you're not allowed to cite Wikipedia as a source on a report because of known problems with the site (user edited, etc). So if someone is going to cite a source for their opinion to me, I think you should be able to defend it and prove that it is an authoritative source. If someone just says,"That's just my gut feeling on the subject." Ok, fine. Then we get into philosophy which can be really interesting. :D

Just my perspective on handling differing opinions...possibly influenced by several years in academia where if you can't defend what you say, its best not to speak.

7/15/13 12:07 P

Oh, then I need to reframe my sentiments, I wasn't speaking of responsible media , I was talking about those who incite people's anger and then turn their fears it into mindless mob mentality anger. Responsible media is A-Okay with me. I won't give examples as I am on my last straw with SP so I have to be nicey-nice.
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MRSOWLERBY12409 SparkPoints: (523)
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7/15/13 11:59 A

In my opinion (hehe), life experiences mold how you look at the world and hot button issues. As you gain more life experiences I think it makes sense that your opinions may change. The value systems of the people important to you can also effect how you look at an issue. For example, if I had a gay brother, my opinion on gay rights might be significantly different from someone who doesn't really know any gay people. Therefore my gay brother helped form my opinion on gay marriage. Does that make sense?

I will say that sometimes I will avoid asking someone's opinion on hot button topics. Simply because I want to be able to respect them the same the next day. I did this after my boss stated that he thought the Earth was only 5,000 years old (at most) and if God was smart enough to create it in 7 days then he would be smart enough to give it an "antiqued" look.

I could have lived my life never knowing my boss felt that way. Because now no matter what I think about my boss' work ethics and such, a part of me still just sees the guy who thinks the dinosaur bones are just there for ambiance.

Edited by: MRSOWLERBY12409 at: 7/15/2013 (12:00)
AMANDANCES Posts: 2,048
7/15/13 11:48 A

Amaranth -- I didn't mean to specifically focus on radio. I've worked in print journalism since 1991 and as a science editor for the last 15 years, and I can say catering to ratings/readership is pervasive in my field just as much as anywhere else.

We can only speak to personal experience of course. My experience in print media may have been vastly different from yours, as I'm sure Scripps companies and Knight-Ridder or Medianews companies had different philosophical goals. But revenue stream was a HUGE issue for us, and I can't imagine it would be THAT different for broadcast media -- or am I way off on that?

KJ -- I don't mean to imply that as reporters and editors we're sitting around laughing gleefully as people get furious. Events infuriate me too -- specifically some recent Supreme Court decisions. But we knew that getting people emotionally involved in stories was the key to getting them to continue to read. Unfortunately it's easier to infuriate people than it is to get them excited about something. I often used to hear journalism referred to as "the game." Something about that rings very true now that I'm older and not-a-whole-lot-wiser, but somewhat more experienced at "the game."

Edited by: AMANDANCES at: 7/15/2013 (11:53)
7/15/13 11:44 A

Fair enough about my media comment as I have never worked in the media, other than getting paid I suppose there are other non-malice reasons to be an entertainment commentator.

EMPRESSAMQ Posts: 5,077
7/15/13 11:18 A

Lol, yep, other than my work life, which calls for having no opinions, opinions I state as opinions are always and forever my own.

To be honest, it would be offensive if I stated as much of my opinion on some discussion or whatever and someone pushed forward with a demand to express more or cite or qualify or whatever because they (the other person) sensed sweeping generalizations so felt they had the right to tell me how to frame my opinion.

I also used to work in media and do take exception to opinions expressed that the talking media only does things for ratings.

But then, that's just my opinion on an opinion stated previously in the thread, and we are all entitled to our own opinion however framed.

LUV2SURFCHIC Posts: 2,507
7/15/13 11:01 A

Not by far.

DEEASHAUB05 Posts: 3,356
7/15/13 10:57 A

In most cases my opinion is not always my own, as I do not want to upset those around me so I base my opinion on what other around me would think, rather than what I think.

AMANDANCES Posts: 2,048
7/15/13 10:52 A

I think "hot button" topics are "hot" because they're complicated. An issue that is black and white wouldn't arouse anyone's emotions, because ... well, it's black and white! Yes or no.

So many of these complicated issues really require a number of different things to fully understand:

1. Scientific literacy in a specific subject
2. Personal experience dealing with the issue or the emotions involved
3. A deep understanding of law and judiciary process, including states' rights, constitutional law, precedent, etc.
4. Fluency in another language or fluency in the culture to determine the veracity of the news reporting
5. Awareness that American media is considered ENTERTAINMENT and responds to the bottom line, not a Superman-style quest for truth, justice, and the American way. They play those uber-conservative and uber-liberal radio shows because people either hate them or love them -- and extreme emotion keeps people tuned in, which keeps the advertising dollars flowing. News is a business, not a noble cause, make no mistake about it.
6. The ability to mine through multiple articles, news reports, opinion reports, first-person anecdotes, and foreign media reports to uncover "the truth"
7. An understanding that "the truth" is darn near always subjective and will vary depending upon the observer and the event being observed.

Americans have this idea that everyone is entitled to an opinion. I disagree: everyone is entitled to an INFORMED opinion. THAT'S the kicker. It's both increasingly easier -- and increasingly more difficult -- to cultivate an informed opinion. We have access to so much more information than we did 50 years ago, but we don't seem to know how to evaluate the veracity of the info, or even how to apply it to the situation we're discussing.

We also have an increasing amount of "truthiness" (thank you Steven Colbert for that phrase) in our media. That's when people cite "facts" or statistics that sound accurate, but may OR MAY NOT actually be facts or legitimate statistics! (Remember the "That was not intended to be a factual statement" debacle on the congressional floor?) Unfortunately, we can't police the use or misuse of facts, statistics, or data, unless it's used in specific health-related claims, like pharmaceutical efficacy. When our own Senate leaders get to just "make stuff up" on the floor, well ... it doesn't bode well for honestly informing opinions.

Certain "hot button" issues really should be left up to experts in those fields to decide (I'm thinking climate change in particular.) Everybody in my family is an armchair climatologist, because they've picked a side and memorized a bunch of facts -- some of which may be fact, and some of which may not be. Either way, NONE of us (because we're none of us trained geologists, meteorologists, or climatologists) really has the kind of knowledge necessary to evaluate the data and make specific recommendations based on that evaluation.

Personally I feel the same way about certain social issues and I'm just thankful every day that I've never had to deal with an unplanned pregnancy, a loved one in a vegetative state on life support, a loved one on death row, or a family member discriminated against because of their age, race, religion, sexual preference, or any other reason people find to hate other people.

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
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7/15/13 10:50 A

If I'm using someone else's opinion I'll say so. Forming my own opinion can be hard now because there are so few sources of "just the facts" with little bias. That being said, I find it amazing how many people get offended when you ask *why* they have a particular opinion. In school we were always taught to evaluate our sources as critically as we evaluated our arguments so I'm more likely to call someone out on their source rather than their opinion. It's ok (IMO) to have an opinion different than mine. That makes for interesting discussions and possibly some further insight to a topic. But an opinion based on bad sources, I'll just do my best to point them gently in the direction of more credible sources.

7/15/13 10:05 A

THIS, my SP friends, is some GOOD discussion.

Thanks to everyone who has replied.

7/15/13 9:57 A

I think that forming a solid opinion on an issue partially depends upon how big of an issue it is. Something like deciding whether or not a piece of clothing looks nice on you, is a quick and easy opinion to make. However, an issue like should we still hunt polar bears with their possibility of extinction, is not so easy. Some would tend to form a very quick opinion on an issue like this because it sounds horrible for an animal to go extinct. But in order to form an educated opinion, it would be best to know all of the facts -- Who hunts polar bears? and why? How many polar bears are left and what is their rate of production? What are the laws for hunting polar bears? Etc. Possibly with the knowledge of this issue, an opinion may be changed.

I certainly don't see it as being whimpy to change your opinion on something. As a matter of fact, I find it admirable when a person changes his opinion on something after better understanding the issue at hand. Many people may not like to admit to the fact that they change their mind on things, because it is somewhat an admission of ignorance in the first part. And then there are those who give opinions that aren't their own -- either to go along with the majority of a group or just to add their two cents so as to not appear out of the loop of things (and like you say, they back peddle when pressured to explain their opinion).

With that said, do I always give my own opinion? I try to. I have often had to (embarrassingly) admit sometimes to groups of people that I have no idea about the topics they bring up. Sometimes it works the other way where I know topics that they don't. It's awkward either way.

Edited by: PATTIJOHNSON at: 7/15/2013 (10:00)
CICELY360 Posts: 4,140
7/15/13 9:57 A

We all have a few opinions that have been formed by our family and friends or something we learned. Eventually, it becomes our own, but no opinion is truly original.

ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
7/15/13 9:49 A

There are a lot of "Hot Button" topics that I don't have an opinion on, mostly because I don't care enough to bother researching them to any degree. If a discussion about one comes up, I tend to go with "Cool - you think that - why?" I may not find out more about the subject, but I generally find out more about the person who brought it up. If it's a topic that I do care about, then I will have researched it to my own satisfaction, and will be more than happy to debate it (with data cited as needed). If the other person can give me more pertinent data that contradicts my own, then great - I've learned something!

The only thing that I refuse to accept input or others' opinions on is how I live my life. That's one topic that is not open to discussion. Anything else, I'm pretty much game for debate. There are very few things so far that I *haven't* changed my opinion on at some point, based on new data that's come up. I consider that the best part of *science* is that conclusions should depend on currently available data and that they can, and should, be changed when new data comes available.

I don't believe that it's possible to form an opinion without influence of some kind. The influence could be your current society, how and where you were brought up, or those media talking-heads. Ideally, some of the influence comes from your own critical thinking skills, where you take in to consideration not just the information, but also the source of that information. If you're giving the same credence to data supplied by Joe Blow on the interwebs as you do to a well-formulated study by a respected university ---- well, let's just say that I'll give your opinion the amount of time that it deserves.

As for fearing looking "weak" or "wishy-washy" by being open to changing or modifying one's opinion - well, in my opinion, that's a character flaw that a person might want to think about working on. There is a reason why there are so many scientific *theories* and very, very few *facts* --- and there are no fields of knowledge that I'm currently aware of where the current beliefs are not radically different from the beliefs of the past. How do you go forward if you can't acknowledge new data and change your opinion based on that new information?

I have to confess, though, that I'm guilty of sometimes thinking of conversation as a game, and will take an unpopular and unsubstantiated position on something just for the sheer fun of seeing where the conversation will go to. I'm obviously feeling mellow this morning, or I would be defending the "Talking Heads Data" as being the best thing ever!


STARMIZER2000 SparkPoints: (142,622)
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7/15/13 9:28 A


GUDDIGO Posts: 1,081
7/15/13 9:26 A

I think whatever you are doing is okay...because you are not being hard headed. I would only disagree with you IF you feel guilty of any decision made based on "influenced" opinions.

7/15/13 8:45 A

I am GUILTY of not always having formulated my own opinion on Hot Button Topics.


Sometimes the information for a topic is too complicated and I am only able to reach a "sense" of what I believe in unless I roll up my sleeves and dig in with more reading (I hate to read sometimes).

On some issues I stay far away from talking media heads because I know in my heart that those folks are doing their job for ratings, ONLY!

For my own personal happenings (family, friends, co-workers) I don't always have time to formulate a strong opinion so I'll go into a discussion with the possibility that if I hear enough facts about something that I could change my opinion. Actually, this is for everything, some of my family and friends think that considering the possibility of changing ones mind is a sign of weakness....whatever, that's THIER opinion, lol.

What bothers me sometimes is when I am discussing a hot button topic with someone and ask them to qualify their statement (I usually only do that if I sense sweeping generalization statements) and they kinda get offended and sputter and then gear up in attack mode. I would just be asking them why or how they came to that opinion. If I am weak on an issue and I am not able to qualify my opinion I actually say so at that time and will say that if I cared to I'd have to put more time and effort into formulating one.

I also am shy to continue talking to someone on really hot button topics when they start their "opinion" with, "Well, (insert media talking head), said that blah-blah-blah......"

Love me some angry outraged moronic talk, NOT!

Lastly, in my "opinion" I think, in general, it is HARD, at best, to formulate a solid opinion without influence of some sort and even HARDER to CHANGE that opinion in fear of looking weak or wishy-washy.

What say you?

One word answers and single emoticons WELCOMED!



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