Strong Opinions Are Usually Wrong

1 minute read

Reality is too nuanced and too complex to be described by way of a strong opinion.

When someone is describing reality in a decisive, opinionated way, take it with a grain of salt. Chances are that in order to make reality fit into their opinionated statement, they have to reduce reality to a much simpler form, glossing over inconvenient edge case, removing details that would render their opinion less conclusive.

Does that mean we should never be opinionated? That is up to the individual. It’s a trade-off. If you’re never opinionated, then your worldview often gets bulldozed and ignored. A decisive opinion is much more evocative and easier to follow than a nuanced, thoughtful discussion piece. The former is likely to stir up more support, the latter will be too long, and the masses won’t engage with it. So sometimes, in the interest of making an impact, it may be worth declaring an opinion, even if deep down you know that it’s a bit reductionist and simplistic.

How do I decide when to make that trade-off? For me it depends on the topic. I consider it irresponsible to be overly opinionated in matters of human consequence. Things to do with culture, justice, race, world affairs etc, are too loaded, and too important. In that space I think we need less strong opinions, and more thoughtful exploration.

On matters that are less consequential or less emotionally loaded, I think a strong opinion is fine. Even if its overly simplistic, a strong opinion can be of value in so far as it gets attention and generates good discussion. In this post I’m choosing to be a bit opinionated because nobody is going to get offended if I’m not 100% right. In this case I’d rather be short and simple and be read, than try to be more nuanced and accurate at the cost of being ignored. I would be a lot more careful if I were writing about issues to do with politics, social justice etc.