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June 11, 2007



I don't have opinions. I have principles. (Except on Princess Toni and Greedie Boot; there I admit to opinions.)

Neil Harding

I agree that opinions are partly prejudice, but individuals have to make decisions in the world and that relies on opinion otherwise nothing would ever be done. So opinions are important and I also think it is healthy that people air them (so long as they are willing to debate their opinion and open to the possibility they are completely wrong).


and the conclusion is?


But then that's just your opinion.


"Hardly anyone says: "I used to believe x with probability y. But in light of this new evidence, I now believe it with probability y - z."

The Buddha also used to say that opinions stop you from learning from others. I believe one of the 8 central principles is to not hold opinions.

Saying that though, I'm full of opinion, but I do change it constantly in light of new data. Honestly, I do. I can even track my own progression through ideas over a period of time. Or so I'd like to think so...


...what does matter is the development of intellectual traditions. The interesting question isn't "what do I think of this?" It's "what does Austrian economics/ Marxism/ Catholicism/ Liberalism/ Conservatism/ neoclassical economics etc make of this?"...

I'd be interested to know how you reconcile this with your dismissal of arguments based on religion (because "religious-based arguments don’t permit the possibility of persuasion" and "religiously motivated arguments assume that one party has superior access to a “truth.”", apparently). To quote my own comment at the time,

Firstly, everyone gets their ideas from *somewhere*; even a pragmatic common sense conservative could probably name their favourite interpreter of pragmatic common-sense conservatism. I don't see any fundamental difference between referring back mentally to Raymond Williams and Rowan Williams. Secondly, in practical terms there's not a lot of difference between "I don't believe in money-lending, although I may be wrong" and "I believe that the teachings of Jesus (or Marx) call for opposition to money-lending, although I may be wrong". Dogmatism and religion can go together, but either one can exist without the other.


You don't have to agree with Melanie Phillips to be impressed with the thoroughness of her research and strength of her arguments. In my opinion.


"People shouldn't express their 'selves'. Selves aren't interesting." Oh really? So why aren't this blog, and your book, anonymous?
You're bullshitting, really, aren't you?

Richard Mann

"Hardly anyone says: "I used to believe x with probability y. But in light of this new evidence, I now believe it with probability y - z."

Except for us Bayesian statisticians... but then isn't prejudice merely an inflexible prior?

Young Man

Your first two points are humbug.

1. Opinions can be mere prejudice. Some are some aren't so what? It is up to intelligent people to judge them against logic and the facts.

2. Sure some are motivated by a desire for self expression again so what? What motivates the opinion doesn't matter so much as whether the opinion is valid or not.

Also intellectual traditions are overrated some are pure bunkum.

3. Yes your right on this one. Sincerity is no excuse.

There is nothing wrong with opinion. As long as it is logical and easily changed in the light of evidence.


I disagree. So there.

Glenn Athey

Well most opinions are based on subjective interpretation.

Since not many of use can read the tons of books required to give an overview on neoclassical, marxist, libertarian perspectives etc - most of us end up giving an opinion.

My beef is to what degree that the opinion is informed, fair and balanced. The trouble with la Toynbee et all is that its often uninformed opinion.

I quite often get asked my view of something. I'll usually distinguish between - 'well evidence says' this, but my interpretation is that... I'll try and give an informed view of an issue.

...but then again as I said the problem is that some people are never informed, or bother to look at the facts of a situation. They just punt a view of the world that is narrow and often inaccurate...


A decision is an opinion - an opinion based on evidence - and without decisions, nothing can happen. So without opinions, nothing happens.


Hmmm -- I am an expert just by virtue of having spent years in a field where few useful numbers exist. One of my frequently expressed opinions is that better collection of statistics is badly needed, but I am quite sure that I don't want to wait for that to happen before any wrongs are righted. I think the batting around of opinions is healthy, and helps us to sift through the possibilities to find sensible actions now.

So what happens if/when we have the numbers? How do we decide on action? Won't opinions come into things then?

Mark Wadsworth

I do like the bit on the BBC News when they say "Text us your views", y'know, in a way, people's beliefs are TRUE and RELEVANT and VALID, the fact that they have no grasp of logic or facts or statistics is a problem of education.


Um, anyone who can't see your opinions and blind prejudices shining out of your writing isn't really paying much attention, Chris.

You're like a man with a hammer. Everything looks like a nail. It's be nice if you added something other than your current slant to your toolbox, actually.

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