The Fundamentals of Having An Opinion Worth Hearing

John-Pierre Maeli
Jun 10, 2016 · 3 min read

Here’s a harsh truth…

Your opinions are probably not logical. They’re probably not rational. They’re most likely irrational. And this goes for everyone.

I know I’m blind to my own irrationality. It’s just what we humans do. We’re irrational.

“Even intellectuals should have learned by now that objective rationality is not the default position of the human mind, much less the bedrock of human affairs.” ― Roy Blount Jr.

But you can take steps to curtail that irrationality. Or, at least catch it more often. Because the more you catch your illogic, the better your views will become.

You want well-crafted views so people will not only take you seriously, but respect you.

You need to be respected to effectively reach out to others. And if they detect charged emotions or irrational conclusions in your views, they’ll ignore you.

So before you shape or share an opinion, go through these three points to avoid illogic.

1. Understand Causality

This is the most widely violated rule ever in the history of opinions.

Just because “X” was around when “Y” occurred doesn’t necessarily mean “X” was responsible. You have to look at all the factors, not just the ones that are readily apparent or available to you.

Correlation does not imply causation.

Reality is never simple and straightforward. Numerous effects and choices going back decades could be responsible for a crisis a year from now. Many times, finding the cause for the effect is a matter of tracing back clues, not looking at your surroundings.

2. Don’t Be Politically or Religiously Dogmatic While Forming Opinions

Your party platform, ideological tribe, or religious church members don’t know everything, and they don’t have everything right. If you come to the realization that “A” is true, but your conservative party believes “B” is wrong, don’t discard “A” simply because you identify as a conservative.

Analyze every new idea and belief with your first principles (a foundation belief that can’t be deduced from any other belief or assumption) and all facts and knowledge you have at your disposal.

Don’t accept something’s moral standing based on someone else’s opinion alone.

“Its impossible to initiate a rational dialogue with some one about beliefs and concepts if he has not acquired them through reason. It doesn’t matter whether we are looking at God, race, or national pride.” ― Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Don’t force your opinions and outlook on the world to fall in lockstep with your political or religious affiliation. This is not to say you should pick and choose beliefs, you need a solid ideological basis, but when analyzing new views you need to be open minded, not stubborn.

This goes for interacting with people you disagree with. Dogma can easily destroy meaningful conversations.

3. Be Willing to Be Wrong (& Comfortable Admitting It)

This is probably the most important tip: you’ll never be right all the time, so you better accept it.

Never go into a conversation assuming you’re right and their wrong. Your goal isn’t to prove them wrong, your goal is to converse and learn.

Admit when you’re wrong. Admit when you don’t know. Seriously, this will do wonders for your interactions. As long as you’re talking to a civilized person, acknowledging your limitations will remove tensions and make you relatable.

It also shows you’re not obsessed with “winning” superficial debates.

Being right all the time is a weakness, acknowledging your limitations is a virtue.

Originally published at on June 10, 2016.

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The Political Informer

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John-Pierre Maeli

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Founder, The Political Informer | Creating a Magazine of Intellectualism | Down with the punditry class | Read a book | Burn your idols

The Political Informer

Share your opinions. Reach others. Make a difference.