I do not have a lot of strong opinions
Published on January 5, 2014 under the tag life
I cannot remember many occasions in the past few years where I have vividly and intensely participated in group discussions. I used to attribute this to my natural shyness, but in the past year I have come to realise this has not been the main cause for at least recently: I have clearly become less shy over the years, whilst at the same time there has been little change in how I participate in arguments.
My attitude usually shifts between questioning and an “I guess I understand how you feel about it”-kind of agreeing. I think the reason for this is twofold.
The first one is simply that of having a defensive point-of-view: as you express stronger opinions and make stronger claims, the consequences of being wrong grow worse as well.
The second one, I think, is more interesting. I hate arguing about subjects of which I do not know enough about – and the number of subjects I know about is awfully small.
Hence, my opinions are rarely clear and solid. They are fuzzy and there is lot of “I agree that if X then Y, but I don’t know much about X so I cannot tell about Y”.
Note that this is mostly unrelated to whether or not the claim is subjective. For example, I think Abec11 70s Flashbacks are vastly superior skate wheels compared to Cult Classics. I have reached this conclusion after uncountable skate sessions on multiple sets of both types of wheels, until they were all pretty much destroyed to the core. Of course other people are entitled to have an opinion on this as well, but if I would hear anyone state otherwise, I would passionately engage in a discussion.
Another example is the great VIM vs. Emacs debate which, after decades, still inspires many blogposts and articles. I use VIM and I am happy with it, and I can customize the bits I do not like. However, I would never claim VIM is superior to Emacs in any way, before at least trying Emacs seriously for half a year or more. And consequently, I would rather behave in a questioning and passive way. I prefer learning something more about Emacs over convincing someone to use VIM simply for the sake of winning the argument.
It goes further than that. I can do a meta-discussion, and state that this blogpost is probably wrong or at least unjustified since I do not have a lot of experience with the other side – making strong claims on a variety of subjects.
Still, it intuitively feels wrong when I hear people who clearly do not know how nuclear fusion and radiation exactly work make claims and even convince other people on whether or not we should abolish nuclear energy.
I guess I would not make a very good politician.