Much of my life is performance art. Try it sometime. Pretend to be a global warming denialist. It's great fun, and very revealing.
Some very well-educated people started talking about global warming. I said that I was skeptical. Everyone at the table turned against me. They know we're facing global warming. So I posed a few questions:
1. Didn't the same experts believe that we were going to face global cooling?
2. What experts have made concrete and verifiable predictions about global tempeature?
3. Why are they now calling it "climate change" instead of global warming?
These are basic, background facts. No one had any answer. They were nonetheless unrelenting. Global warming exists, and that's the end of it. After all, the experts say so!
I concluded with: I honestly don't know enough to have an opinion. I do know that the experts who claim we are having global warming are now calling it climate change because some parts of the world are cooling. I also know that they have not made any accurate predictions. I also know that whenever the climate does something that none of the experts predicted, these same experts use the change as proof of their hypotheses. They say, "Wow! Things are much worse than we had imagined!" If your models are right, then you can't play that game. Thus, I concluded, the experts have not met their burden of proof.
I made something very clear: When experts start making predictions that come true, then they will have demonstrated that their models are sound. Until then, I need not believe anything they say. True knowledge comes only through verification of one's hypothesis.
Everyone was outraged. How could I not have an opinion on global warming. They kept pushing me to: "Just come out and say what you really believe."
What I really believe is that I do not know what the believe. What is wrong with that?
My domestic partner often gets extremely annoyed with me. My answer to, "What do you think about x," is often: "I don't. Why would you think I'd have an opinion on the matter?" I don't have opinions about too many subjects.
Yet everyone else just has to have an opinion the matter of the day. People form their [sic] opinions based on nothing but the assertions of so-called experts.
I see that attitude in many comments at this blog and others. When I post about something, I generally have great knowledge about it : E.g., the market meltdown. It's a fact that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a causal agent of the market collapse. It's also a fact that political correctness led to reckless lending. These facts are simply not debatable. Yet people will debate them!
People without any knowledge of the subject (as evidenced by their responses) nonetheless want to argue. I quiz them on a few facts, and they know nothing. All they know is that Paul Krugman, a notorious liar and partisan hack, has said otherwise.
Fine. If you want to play a game of Appeal to Authority, at least have some balls. Say, "Paul Krugman said the government was not to blame - unless Republicans somehow were responsible. He is better than you are. While I have not researched the issue other than having read a Krugman column, I know that he is right. He is my god. I have surrounded my mind, body, and soul to him."
No one will say that! Yet when you accept an expert's assertions without independently verifying the facts, you have indeed surrendered yourself to the expert.
Either be honest about the basis for your opinions (i.e., you do not think for yourself but suckle from the teats of "experts"); or don't have an opinion at all.
If I don't know about something, I don't know about it. I do not feel compelled to have an opinion. I have strong opinions on only a few subjects. I do not live in Infinite Land where I get to learn everything about everything.
So my question is: Why must everyone have an opinion on everything? And why do people get so damned offended when I explain to them that I do not have an opinion about whatever everyone else has an opinion on?