Author Topic: your opinion is... wrong  (Read 4018 times)

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lellah

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your opinion is... wrong
« on: October 16, 2012, 09:58:52 AM »
Okay.  Let's say I like chocolate ice cream and you like vanilla.  I can say chocolate is better and you can say vanilla is better and no harm is done.  We can hang out and eat ice cream.  Friendsies!

But let's say you believe that, oh, eating ice cream cures cancer.  You're out feeding ice cream to cancer patients and encouraging them to stop non-ice cream treatments.  Then you're an irresponsible person who has opinions that are clearly, well, wrong. 

I don't feel a particular urge to listen politely when someone starts in on such opinions in social situations.  My inclination is to say something like "that's an opinion that no reliable scientific research supports and whose dissemination genuinely endangers people.  Could we change the subject please?"  I swear I use a pleasant voice when I say it.  Some people, namely my notoriously conflict averse sister-in-law, thinks this is rude and that every opinion is valid.  I think I'm being fairly polite and that the opinion that "every opinion is valid" is kind of stupid.  I mean, no one sensible person would say that, oh, blonde people ought to be forced to move into caves is a valid opinion.  There are clearly lines.

Anyway.  Do you think my response is rude?  What should I say instead?

*modified because my s-i-l "thinks," not "things."  Sheesh.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 10:04:08 AM by lellah »

Miss Unleaded

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2012, 10:12:22 AM »
I agree not all opinions are equally valid.  I think that in situations where the potential outcome is that a person doesn't seek appropriate medical treatment because they become convinced that eating icecream is efficacious, then you do actually have a responsibility to politely point out that there is no scientific evidence to support such a notion.  Safety trumps etiquette.

It gets a bit murkier when the beliefs are not of a scientifically verifiable nature, the potential for harm is not as obvious or the belief is very widespread (political, religious or philosophical issues for example).  In those cases you should generally keep it to yourself unless you know debate is welcome.

Margo

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2012, 10:17:05 AM »
I think it depends a little on circumstances, and in particualr on whether, and to what extent, the person is likely to be able o influcen others. If (in your example) they are a doctor, nurse, volunteer driver for the local oncology unit or something of the kind, then I think challenging the view point is  reasonable.

However, I think that your wording is likely to seem rude (even though it may be accurate!)
Quote
that's an opinion that no reliable scientific research supports and whose dissemination genuinely endangers people.  Could we change the subject please?" 
is very dictatorial and it is likely to put someone on the defensive, which reduces the chance of them taking on board what you've said.

Saying something less confrontational may be more effective:
e.g "I'd heard that there was a theory that ice-cream cures cancer - it sounded really interestingso I did a bit a reseacrch. Did you know that it turned out to be a mistake by the researchers? They research didn't take into account that all the participants were also taking regular cancer meds, it turns out it was the meds, not the ice cream, that cured them. It's such a shame that the correction got so much less publicity than the original research, as it means that some people with cancer are being harmed as they mistakenly think that ice-cream will cure them, when it won't"

If they try to convince you, at that point I think you're fine to suggest changing the subjct

Margo

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2012, 10:18:17 AM »
PS. Vanilla is WAY better than chocolate.

buvezdevin

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2012, 10:26:10 AM »
I agree that opinions are not all "equal" - heck, even my own opinions, as some are informed, and others are just a general view which I recognize is not well informed, and would never state as a "belief" just my initial view/opinion.

But, as OP is specifically asking about how to address others in a social setting, when they offer a strongly held opinion which seems unsound, I would not use or recommend the phrasing of OP's response - which contains a likely equally inaccurate statement.  There are multitudes of "scientific" studies on almost any subject/opinion, and whether or not "any" such study is "reliable" is also a matter of opinion.

When confronted with anyone asserting an opinion which I consider invalid, or poorly considered, I will generally listen politely to a statement, then reply there are a range of views on the subject and/or offer bean dip - unless it becomes a monologue or attempt to convert the listener, then I may either more forcefully beandip, or suggest that respect for others opinions is the currency polite society requires in return for listening to anyone who wants to share their own opinions.
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Judah

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2012, 10:57:35 AM »
My inclination is to say something like "that's an opinion that no reliable scientific research supports and whose dissemination genuinely endangers people.  Could we change the subject please?"  I swear I use a pleasant voice when I say it. [snip]

Anyway.  Do you think my response is rude?  What should I say instead?

I agree that not all opinions are valid, but by using the wording above you are giving yourself the last word on the topic and dictating that the subject be changed.  It's a bit ham handed regardless of tone and I would find it rude.  A more subtle "bean dip" would be better.
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mechtilde

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2012, 11:11:45 AM »
I've been having similar issues with some dear friends myself- so I'm coming to the thread to pick up tips.
NE England

jmarvellous

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2012, 11:17:13 AM »
My inclination is to say something like "that's an opinion that no reliable scientific research supports and whose dissemination genuinely endangers people.  Could we change the subject please?"  I swear I use a pleasant voice when I say it. [snip]

Anyway.  Do you think my response is rude?  What should I say instead?

I agree that not all opinions are valid, but by using the wording above you are giving yourself the last word on the topic and dictating that the subject be changed.  It's a bit ham handed regardless of tone and I would find it rude.  A more subtle "bean dip" would be better.

I agree with this interpretation, but I think you can address it directly in a kinder manner if you're inclined, too.

"I disagree, and I'd rather not discuss this right now," seems more polite than opening yourself up for a battle of the "studies" with a person you find wacky.

Allyson

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2012, 11:28:22 AM »
I think the main problem with your wording is that you are arguing your point, and then insisting they can't argue theirs back. I think you can do one or the other. I have no problem with politely disagreeing with someone. Or asking them more questions. I also wouldn't have a problem with either just changing the subject myself, or (especially if it was a more controversial topic) 'let's not discuss politics/religion today'.

I agree with you that 'every opinion is valid' is silly. I know someone who comes back with an angry 'I have the right to my opinion!' every time someone disagrees with her. Well...yes. And I have a right to mine, which might be different from yours.

I think if someone is going to bring up a topic that they *know* to be controversial, they can't then act shocked when other people don't agree. But two people could be holding totally opposite opinions and both be equally convinced the other has the totally nutty, off-the-wall opinion. They aren't going to change each other's minds most likely.

Sharnita

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2012, 11:38:24 AM »
I think the main problem with your wording is that you are arguing your point, and then insisting they can't argue theirs back. I think you can do one or the other. I have no problem with politely disagreeing with someone. Or asking them more questions. I also wouldn't have a problem with either just changing the subject myself, or (especially if it was a more controversial topic) 'let's not discuss politics/religion today'.

I agree with you that 'every opinion is valid' is silly. I know someone who comes back with an angry 'I have the right to my opinion!' every time someone disagrees with her. Well...yes. And I have a right to mine, which might be different from yours.

I think if someone is going to bring up a topic that they *know* to be controversial, they can't then act shocked when other people don't agree. But two people could be holding totally opposite opinions and both be equally convinced the other has the totally nutty, off-the-wall opinion. They aren't going to change each other's minds most likely.

I agree.  You get to state your case and then cut them off because you deem them unworthy of doing the same. I think you might say something like "You know, our views on this differ so much that I'd really prefer not to discuss it at all."

snowdragon

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2012, 12:31:21 PM »
I think the main problem with your wording is that you are arguing your point, and then insisting they can't argue theirs back. I think you can do one or the other. I have no problem with politely disagreeing with someone. Or asking them more questions. I also wouldn't have a problem with either just changing the subject myself, or (especially if it was a more controversial topic) 'let's not discuss politics/religion today'.

I agree with you that 'every opinion is valid' is silly. I know someone who comes back with an angry 'I have the right to my opinion!' every time someone disagrees with her. Well...yes. And I have a right to mine, which might be different from yours.

I think if someone is going to bring up a topic that they *know* to be controversial, they can't then act shocked when other people don't agree. But two people could be holding totally opposite opinions and both be equally convinced the other has the totally nutty, off-the-wall opinion. They aren't going to change each other's minds most likely.

I agree.  You get to state your case and then cut them off because you deem them unworthy of doing the same. I think you might say something like "You know, our views on this differ so much that I'd really prefer not to discuss it at all."

This. Although I think if they are making their own choices about their own treatment people need to stay out of it.  If they are trying to convert you or someone whose treatment you have a say in - you can be a little more forceful about it and say something like "My dr and I arrived at a treatment plan together, I am satisfied that it is the best for us." If it does not affect you or anyone you are responsible for " I don't discuss this with anyone but my dr., beandip?"

Eden

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2012, 12:48:02 PM »
I think the better approach would be to say, "I disagree with you strongly on this subject, but also do not wish to debate it. Can we agree not to talk about it around each other?"

Bijou

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2012, 01:04:41 PM »
I see nothing wrong with saying you think a medical treatment plan is between a patient and their doctor and so don't interfere with nor discuss such MYOB things. 
If they keep it up, you could just change the subject in an ordinary way (not 'lets change the subject please.' which sounds kind of 'my way or the highway'.
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wheeitsme

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2012, 01:09:01 PM »
Some people, namely my notoriously conflict averse sister-in-law, thinks this is rude and that every opinion is valid.

If every opinion is valid, then I can think that her opinion on this is wrong and that is a valid opinion.  And since it's a valid opinion, then she's wrong.  And therefor every opinion is not valid.  Which means that my opinion might be wrong, which means she might be right, and every opinion is valid, and that makes my opinion right, and hers wrong, and...

Yes.  It is a logical merry-go-round.

Using mathematical logic, not every opinion can be valid, otherwise, if you were out of Schlitz, then you'd be out of beer.

Is it rude to point this out? Sometimes.  I think it depends on the time, the place, and the person. 

Mental Magpie

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Re: your opinion is... wrong
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2012, 01:28:38 PM »
I think the better approach would be to say, "I disagree with you strongly on this subject, but also do not wish to debate it. Can we agree not to talk about it around each other?"

I think this is the best way to go about it.

It's not what you're saying, OP, it's how you're saying it.  No need for a mini-lecture, just change the subject or ask that it be changed; your dislike for the subject will be known by the way you refuse to discuss it.


Also, I used to do the, "Actually, I read a study on that and..." but I have since tried to stop.  Apparently it makes me look like a know it all that always has to be right  ::)
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