We Need to Test For Stupid Opinions

They say opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one. I don't ignore that disturbing visual. I often sit back and enjoy George Carlin's approach:

“When you’re born in this world, you’re given a ticket to the freak show. And when you’re born in America, you’re given a front-row seat. And some of us get to sit there with notebooks.”

I like taking notes. I'm curious. But somewhere along the line, curiosity was mixed up with weakness. Strong opinions are celebrated no matter how dumb. You're expected to be ready to drop some knowledge in any discussion. Like armchair emperors, some people even believe if they just had a direct line to the world's leaders, they could save us from attention deficit culture, presidential elections, and bad movie remakes.

But we can't all be right. If everyone with strong opinions thinks they know how the world should function, someone has to be wrong. And no one will admit it until they get to try.

I keep my opinions about the world to a minimum because I have a college degree and continue to wear socks with holes in them.

What do I know?

Waking up earlier would change your life for the better.

There are circumstances that make us all through nature or nurture. We may choose what the world doesn't choose for us.

Harry Potter is stupid. It's a children's book I didn't grow up devouring. I read the first book and I saw the first movie. Don't tell me I need to keep going before it's good. That's ridiculous. 

And that's the gist. What most strong opinions are missing is the test. Daniele Bolelli said it in Create Your Own Religion, "Testing our most sacred values against different opinions will only strengthen us."

Let's take GMOs. People lose their minds about this scientific feat, but can they actually classify GMOs? Because I can't. And neither could Vox, really. Writer Nathanael Johnson found we've demonized something far too slippery. The scientific classifications fall short of useful. GMOs are a cultural construct, and, for everyone that wants to ban GMOs, you need to do the hard work of defining it first.

Writing this I had to ask myself what I think and know to be true.

I like getting work done. Spending Sunday on the couch is not my idea of relaxing. I like being active, even if it means my fingers are on the keyboard.

Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs, is the ambassador for work. He sings the praises of technical work - the kind of work most of young America turns their nose up at. In Rowe's TED talk, Learning from dirty jobs, he told the story of helping a farmer castrate sheep. Ever the apprentice, Rowe made some calls beforehand to find the most "humane" procedure for doing this. But he quickly and painfully learned that the truth is a bit more uncomfortable: "I was just so blown away at how completely wrong I was in that second, and I was reminded how utterly wrong I am so much of the time."

It's okay to be wrong. It's good. We need to be wrong most of the time to be right all the time. Because if you're not testing yourself, what are you doing?

What strong opinion do you hold? Have you tested it?