2020/12/12

Opinions are worthless

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There are four major content categories in my opinion; information, entertainment, opinion and scientific contributions.
 
I have never attempted to provide scientific contributions with this blog, and I have largely ignored news. It was always about some information and some opinion, and rather more of the latter. 

Now I'm a bit in a crisis as an author, for I have concluded a while ago that I'm at an age where I simply don't give a shit about the opinions of people any more. More about that later, but the immediate issue is that someone who doesn't give a shit about anyone's opinions any more maybe shouldn't write a blog that's more opinion than plain information. And the entertainment factor is limited to a few images in the link dump blog posts on each first Saturday of the month.

So why don't I give a shit about opinions any more? Well, there's a simple reason why opinions so often do clash: Humans are incredibly bad at forming conclusions/opinions. This isn't even about the availability of information, about experiences or about attention. Humans are outright terrible at the entire process of forming an opinion. It happened way too often that I write or say one thing, and the other person reads/hears something completely different. It's commonly "Trip to Jerusalem", just with two people and the result isn't funny. Most people can be confronted by a most solid fact and completely fail to appreciate or accept it. I've observed over and over again that people also fail at basic logic, such as theory of sets. Logical fallacies and psychological self-defence mechanisms reign supreme.

The opinions of individuals are crap, for individuals are crappy at forming an opinion. Our hope lies in the hopefully functioning decisionmaking of crowds and in getting lucky with picking the people for positions of great power [sarcastic laughter].

The concept that there are people whose opinions should be heard is bollocks. Information (facts) should be disseminated, but opinions? Why care? The opinions of individuals are but a detour between information and collective actions.

What a depressing thought; so much that's getting written or recorded is probably worse than even the most stupid forms of entertainment.

And the most depressing thing is that my opinion-forming is probably compromised by the same problems.

So sometime around Christmas time I'll take the time to re-think this. Maybe I'll shift my blogging style, maybe the subconsciousness will insist on doing things as usual. A switch to scientific discourse style would cause a horrible workload. I would suddenly be compelled to look up all that info and link to/quote it instead of simply recalling and using it.

S O 

defence_and_freedom@gmx.de
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15 comments:

  1. I think you are over-correcting here. Opinions are probably worthless in isolation, but when read with opinions from other authors they can stimulate the thought process (I guess related to your "wisdom of the crowds" statement).

    Noone has time to sit down and form conclusions to everything based on facts alone (and besides everyone's lived experience is different so the chances are you you will miss something).

    As a lay person, I want to use differing opinions to form my own: I have enough knowledge to understand what is being said but I am far from a position to form original thought on this subject.

    As an "expert" in another field I sometimes despair at the low quality of stuff I find on the internet. However, I get paid to give my opinion on things. Sometimes those opinions are backed by hundreds of pages of maths, sometimes just experience, but either one can be appropriate in context. Either way, non-experts rely on my opinion and if I talk nonsense people could die or companies could take losses of hundreds of millions of your currency of choice. The system works because opinions are curated (i.e. I have qualifications), compared with others (cross checking with other experts and/or against precedent) and I destroy my career if I get things badly wrong.

    Obviously that gets harder as you move into less well understood fields (i.e. anything to do with politics and economics) but I think the principle remains. Listen to experts, compare them with other experts, and always check their opinions against the real world (especially if there are no professional consequences for those experts being wrong)

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  2. My opinion is that your opinions are not worthless. Far from it. That's why I keep returning here. It is by far the most rational defence blog I visit.

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    1. You gave someone who doesn't care about opinions any more your opinion about his opinions.

      You spot the problem?

      Delete
  3. Some people call other people who don’t care about a opinions a dick. Smarmy, arrogant people act that way.

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  4. I think I said something similar when I was 14.

    How about discussion? Is there value to that? The discussion between people, between people reading your writing and themselves. Most not even bothering to write a comment in 'reply'.

    I could go on a rant about your reductive missunderstanding (mistranslation?) of the word 'opinion', of your assesment of what a 'blog' is on todays internet. But I wont.

    Joyeux Noel

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  5. Last Dingo:

    Why are you writing this blog in the first place? The truth behind any claims or reasons is simply like for every other human plot, to feel yourself better. What ever is done by humans, they do it for this reason alone. Even a Mother Theresa does help other humans only for that simple egoistical reason, to feel herself better and to avoid feeling worse (which she would if she would not help). So you begin writing this blog in the end for avoidance of displeasure and to increase your pleasure. Who cares if you are writing your opinion, or scientific work or if your opinion matters or not or if it is right or wrong. This does not matter in the end for the main question: why are your writing at all? If this blog is an displeasure for you, you will stop it sooner or later and if not, you will go on. If another style is avoidance of displeasure and gives you more pleasure, do it. Who cares, everything you write here is completely pointless and absolutely insignificant, except in its effect on yourself.

    In the end, all you have to do is figure out with yourself what actually suits your selfish motivation more or less.

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  6. There's a general problem with communication that someone changed someone's mind. This might be even worse in written form on a public forum. So as a general disclaimer, you made me see your point of view more often than it was obvious from the communication. At least I value your opinion and see where I might be not spot on with what I think.
    All the best. And I do think you care about interests of your readers, albeit less about opinions.

    A general question, if you we have a disagreement, can I link to a scientific article and explain why I think something is the case? Everybody has been holding back on linking in this blog.

    Just as an example: These two papers on genetics in human history are the starting point how I approach human conflict. I see defence as an ideal with actual behaviour driven by different objectives. The reduction in Y-DNA range is far more than female mate selection would effect and is interpreted as male conflict affecting reproductive success of male kin. There's more in such data about culture and male and female conflicts and how they relate. Conflict here is in its broadest sense and not necessarily war, but might be forms of everyday discrimination with measureable genetic effects.

    A recent bottleneck of Y chromosome diversity coincides with a global change in culture. Genome Res. 2015 Apr; 25(4): 459–466.
    https://dx.doi.org/10.1101%2Fgr.186684.114

    Zeng, T.C., Aw, A.J. & Feldman, M.W. Cultural hitchhiking and competition between patrilineal kin groups explain the post-Neolithic Y-chromosome bottleneck. Nat Commun 9, 2077 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-04375-6

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    1. Psychology has a better claim to explain behaviour. Quality psychological research (based on experiments, not just some penis fixation like Freud did psychology) is already taking into account supporting fields such as biology including genetics, statisics, anthropology.

      Laymen are extremely prone to mistakes (methodological and/or ignorance-driven) if they dive deep into some supporting sciences to directly draw conclusions when bypassing the research field that's having ten thousands of people working full-time on advancing knowledge about the question that the layman pays interest to.

      That's just my opinion, though.

      Delete
    2. Psychology is in a reproduction crisis of their experimental research and heavily biased via a small sample of humanity in North American colleges. I'm sceptic about their results.

      I'm not sure I agree with your criticism of laymen, because I see the same kind of errors being done by the ten thousands of people working full-time on advancing knowledge in fields I know about. Laymen might be more prone for such errors, but done by professionals they can become gospel.

      Take for example sex determination which with some level of certainty is possible from bone formation if gene tests aren't an option. The problem is "archaeological sex determination" which is claimed to be an independent methodology from biological sex determination other than genetics. It claims that certain types of finds are associated with specific sexes and for this reason finds can be used to determine sex, especially any kind of weapon of war makes a grave a man's. That is being challenged in Russia, Ukraine and Skandinavia, but widely accepted in Germany.
      I'm a sceptic, because we do at least have cultural influences from these regions with expected population transfers. Through this professional methodology we probably sweep under the rug how violence actually worked, because it has preconceived notions that you needed to be a strong guy to wield a weapon in some kind of militia. It might as well be a female trader defending herself and her goods on her travels. The problem is that this methodology underlies much of our research in Germany on ancient conflict. I'm not proposing that the world was full of armed women, but even written sources from the pre-gunpowder age make it clear that there were occasions, when women picked up weapons and armour.
      This whole issue is prone to distortions, because of methodologically questionable bias in professional research. Since I picked a career outside the field, I'm turning into a layman.

      Going back to the genetic research I linked, patrilineal kin groups have been modelled as likely cause of the y-chromosome diversity collapse with the advent of the Neolithic pastoralism. It also shows several different shifts out of this predicament with Europe becoming the region where such assumed patrilineal kin group conflicts currently play the least role.
      For this reason, our way of conflict and conduct thereof likely differs from the rest of the world. This is in line with anecdotal information how business works in other parts of the world and I presume influences how armed conflict works.

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  7. It would be interesting to see what you found in psychology that explains human group conflict behaviour such as war.

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    Replies
    1. War can be rational behaviour by decisionmakers because of the principal-agent problem:
      https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/principal-agent-problem.asp

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  8. Opinions are the only thing that matters - if the person who has the opinion also has the power in the part about which he has an opinion.

    And opinions are worthless, if you do not have the necessary power and influence.

    So it depends on the question, who has an opinion?! If you believe something and you can act according to your believe and have the power to make your opinion happen in reality, your opinion is of the outmost importance.

    But as your blog has near to zero influence and as far as i knew it you have no power in military affairs, YOUR opinion is worthless. Not opinions in general, but only your opinion is worthless.

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  9. I am now no longer an eu citizen. My opinion is, that fucking sucks.

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  10. Opinions are the only thing that matters if you have power and/or influence.

    Opinions are worthless if you do not have power / influence.

    In the question of military affairs it is quite interesting, that decisions of officers, staffs etc overall are more based on opinions than resulting from available information. In the decision-making process the information makes only 40% of the decision average and 60% is only opinion or other factors.

    If you are the one that decides, your opinion is therefore of the outmost importance. If not, your opinion is only an additional worthless information to be ignored.

    To summarize it up: Not Opinions are worthless. Only your opinion last dingo is worthless.

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