• Moral Panic: Your Opinion Means NOTHING!~!

    Signs & SymbolsIn the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” the king’s tailors created a lavish outfit for the king. He surrounded himself with fans who gushed over the opulent attire. One problem, though. The new clothes were invisible.

    In the end, only one little boy possessed the honesty to say, “The king is naked.”

    The moral of the story? It’s kinda, sorta dangerous to surround yourself with yes-people.

    Yeah, it’s embarrassing when someone points out that I don’t know everything. It stings when I’m wrong.

    That said, isn’t it better to acknowledge incorrectness rather than keep defending a wrong notion?

    To complicate matters, life isn’t black and white. Just because I haven’t experienced something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The more voices I add to the choir of our conversation, the closer it comes to reflecting reality.

    The best minds adjust their views based on what’s observed. Science is strong because it relentlessly follows the evidence. We’d do well to gather evidence on any given topic and be prepared to shift course when appropriate.

    But, I could be wrong. 🙂

    Want to complicate things more? Ever hear of the Johari Window?

    My point?

    It’s somewhat dangerous to abolish all differing opinions from your world.

    Sure, the differing opinions may be incorrect. But, even if they are, if someone cares enough about an issue to courteously raise a contrary view, a simple, “Thanks for your opinion” is certainly appropriate.

    Takeaway: If you’re in a situation where outside opinions are dogpiled, mocked, called names, etc… unless you like a knock down drag out without any resolution, unless you have tons of time to kill, unless you enjoy an emotional roller coaster ride… I wouldn’t bother jumping into the discussion.

    Also, when someone highlights one of your own blind spots, another point of view, don’t instantly brush it aside.

    Effective persuasion is slow, gentle, and compelling.

    Category: Moral PanicMy Opinion


    Article by: Beth Erickson

    I'm Beth Ann Erickson, a freelance writer, publisher, and skeptic. I live in Central Minnesota with my husband, son, and two rescue pups. Life is flippin' good. :)


    1. Hi Beth, I liked your post. I would, however, suggest you reconsider this bit: “The more voices I add to the choir of our conversation, the closer it comes to reflecting reality”.

      I happen to think that’s not necessarily the case always. Try, for example adding religious cosmovisions to try to explain the origins of the Universe. I think this time, the more won’t be the merrier because, like it or not, reality is not democratic, so we won’t come closer to it just by adding as many voices as we found.

      I’ve written about this before, in case you’re interested: http://www.skepticink.com/avant-garde/2014/07/08/objectivity-impartiality/


    2. Excellent, excellent point. I considered some of the bigger topics when I wrote this piece… religion, climate change, evolution, etc… but I still think if I follow the evidence, not opinion, but concrete evidence, I’m in pretty decent shape, even if I have to occasionally re-evaluate my position on various topics.

      The problem, for me, arises when I don’t have access to all the evidence. That’s why I tend to listen carefully to experts, evaluate proof, and honestly try to see if someone who disagrees with me has a point.

      Often, they don’t, though. 🙂

      Again, you bring up an excellent point.

      1. I think you had it right. David suggests there are limits, which of course, there are, but you said voices and he referred to specific ideas. Those are different statements. People with those religious worldviews may be totally wrong about bits, but they might also be more motivated and able to point out your mistakes or they might come at issues with a usefully novel perspective.

        1. Thanks, Ed. Yes, there are limits.

          I think one of the more difficult situations I’ve run into online is when someone hunkers down and grasps a particular idea despite concrete evidence to the contrary. Subjects such as medical quackery, climate change, even emotionally charged topics such as feminism seem quite closed to conversation.

          Case in point, Jess Ainscough “cured” herself of cancer using Gerson Therapy (whole food vegan diet + coffee enemas + a buncha other stuff). She recently died of cancer. Her readers (thousands of them) are stunned. Oncologists, and anyone who has a basic understanding of biology, are not.

          That’s a prime situation when it would have been quite helpful to listen to someone outside her “tribe.”

          I guess, that’s where I’m coming from… today. 🙂

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