The Problem With An Opinion Is……..
There is a certain skill that is growing in relevance in this information-overloaded universe and that’s the ability to discern information. To sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak. To know the difference between what we know and don’t know, can and can’t conclude, truth vs opinion, Bull-sh@!-O-Meter if you will.
The good news is that anyone with an open mind and a flexible ego can improve their skills. The bad news is that as soon as you think you know (or God forbid OWN) the truth and let your ego wear an ‘expert’ hat your magical powers wane. In short you swap your ‘discerning’ powers for opinions and we all know that opinions are like (insert crude bodily reference), everybody has got one.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with having and sharing opinions but when you give an opinion a professional standing or framework it can ride dangerously close to sounding like an unquestionable truth and where there are truths there are devotees.
So where am I going with this?
Well all I can do is tell you a little more about my journey as that is all I know.
When I started off this blog I used to send in stories to all of the top magazines, newspapers, other popular blogs and review sites hoping to become one of their ‘experts’. I wanted my writing to be adored and my views to be shared so that A) I could feel good about myself and B) that I could possibly grow and learn from the interactions that followed on from my articles. However, it soon became apparent that I was barking up the wrong tree in terms of audience as time and time again I heard either nothing or ‘no thank you’ in reply. Needless to say I was shattered.
But I carried on anyway.
I focused all of my attention on here, this blog and over time gained the audience and resulting business that I had sought but by that time something in me had changed.
The blog and writing that I’d started in 2008 with mighty gusto and much bravado had softened, become less about answers and more about questions. I found that my opinions, once tested both in the laboratory, in the factory and via literature searches were incomplete, shaky even as more and more evidence came to light. In short I was learning that each and every question has a complex and always applied solution and that those solutions always come with strings attached.
In short there is no ‘truth, ‘ it is all truth given the right environment.
“There is only so much a literature search can teach you, for the rest you must go to the lab”
Now as my consulting business has grown and developed into a healthy day job plus hobby (I still like to write this blog unfettered and free so it doesn’t generate an income as such) I am less inclined to give straight opinions on ANYTHING off the cuff, preferring instead to give questions the quiet, careful consideration and response that they deserve, framed as the question demands and nothing more.
I am totally not what popular media wants in a writer being lacking in a certain ‘shock value’ or ‘soundbite’ but that no longer bothers me as that was just that silly old ego talking.
No, what I am is a person who is in love with the scientific process, who is thrilled by the pursuit of knowledge and energized by the company of the many like-minded souls I come across on my quiet, backstage journey.
So, here’s to us, the creators of primary source information, of questions, of applied answers blood, sweat and tears for while we still have opinions we have learned the value of questioning their validity.