Monday, June 08, 2009

The value of opinions

Make your opinions valuable by not expressing worthless opinions.

I just posted that as part of something I wrote to Always Learning, and I thought I might want to put it where I could find it again. This place will do.

Once in a discussion where someone who knew little to nothing about unschooling was assuring me I was rude and thought I knew everything, I pointed out that the way to be right all the time was to never say anything you weren't sure of. Since before I had kids, I was in positions at work and in hobbies to be scrutinized and quoted, so I figured out way early on that if you don't say things you're not willing to defend or to have quoted back, you're pretty safe as scrutiny and questioning go. I saw friends who lied or bullshitted, and I saw them have to try to remember who received which version of what story and it seemed exhausting. I knew they were lying, and gradually others came to know, and soon they were reliable liars.

Some people speak without thinking, and write without pausing, and respond with emotion without considering what will happen after that. We all know some, and some of us have been some (I've certainly learned from my own experiences directly and sometimes painfully). So now what? It depends on the person.

Some people don't have any idea how good it would feel for others to respect their opinions. Some people long for it but don't have a clue where it comes from.

Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences suggest not everyone is equally capable of pulling this off easily. It would take intrapersonal skills (self knowledge), and interpersonal, verbal and logical. So someone who's a great singer, dancer and who sees and can paint the details of various trees and birds might not even know what I'm writing about here. That's okay.

For those who do see it, it might help you explain to someone else in your life what it takes to be confident and reliable. If you don't know, don't say. If you're quoting someone else's ideas and they're not your own, say so. At least say "I heard" or "I read," because then if that information was wrong it's only your faith in other people's ideas that's called into question. If you're pretty sure you do know, you could STILL qualify your statement with an explanation of why you think you know the thing.

When, in an unschooling discussion, I say "That won't help," there's an assumption that I'm basing it on years of experience with my unschooled kids and other people's situations and problems and solutions.

in an SCA discussion, if I say "That's not why that was done," I'm probably about to go on to say why I said that, and those who know me will assume I can pull a piece of paper out of a filing cabinet to back up my claim, or a photo, or a letter. And I probably can, or else I would have said "I can't prove it anymore, but that's not why that was done."

and then this happened:

I took a break from writing the post above, and came upon this post on Renee Cabatic's blog: I quoted the first Schuyler writing on my page about gratitude, but this also was in Renee's blog post, in Schuyler's words:
It means a lot to me to get to write it. It makes it feel more concrete, more directed, more future making of the now, if you know what I mean in my lack of clarity. Let's try again, if I write it, somehow, it becomes a truth that I want to maintain.
When people write and say what they mean and then stand by those words, it makes them reliable. This isn't to say that people should stand by rash statements. It says people should not make rash statements.


Heather said...

Thanks Sandra. I liked your post today. As one of the opinionated, it's a good reminder. *grin*

My dad once told me, in reference to his lying ex-wife, "if you tell the truth, you don't have to remember what you said".

Alex Polikowsky said...

This whole exchange was great!

Sandra Dodd said...

I made a slight change up there. I changed this:

-=-At least say "I heard" or "I read," because then if you're wrong it's only your faith in other people's ideas that's called into question. -=-

-=- At least say "I heard" or "I read," because then if that information was wrong it's only your faith in other people's ideas that's called into question. -=-

If I say "I read that TV will install the devil into your soul," it's only "wrong" if I didn't actually read that. (By the way, I didn't actually read that, but there's info slanted that way here: )

If it turns out TV doesn't install the devil into your soul (though who could prove it before the apocalypse?), then maybe I was gullible or "too trusting." Or maybe I made the statement knowing I didn't actually read that.

I have read there will be an Apocalypse. That's a true statement. I don't think there will be one (yeah, I know, I'll receive the mark of The Beast, and in the stirring words of Ren Allen, blah blah frickin' blah).

Lynch Family said...

Off the topic of this post but had to let you know before I forgot: great book for Learn Nothing Day

Reviewed here: