My changing opinions… I used to think it was a weakness but I was wrong

Firstly, last Monday I wrote about how miserable I was. That was because I was feeling down after having my son stay with me for a week and then having to say goodbye. Then when I picked him up (he spends Thursday nights with me) he told me how upset he was after I dropped him off. Five minutes after I dropped him off, he cried because he missed me. And though he didn’t cry on the other nights, he missed me then too. I don’t want him to be upset, of course, but this is a very good sign. We both missed each other, missed having things the way they should be, and it’s a sign that everything is coming together. So our sadness is a good thing.

Onto the main topic for the day: My changing opinions.

I used to think of myself as weak, because none of my opinions were ever set in stone. Especially in my youth, it didn’t take much for me to change my opinions… A debate, a chat among friends, an argument with some random person… Any time I made an argument about my opinion and was presented with facts that contradicted it, I changed my opinion. I thought it was a bad thing, that it made me weak-minded for not sticking to my guns, because it meant that I often lost arguments, but over the years, it’s led to my opinions being based more and more around evidence and facts.

One example would be when I realized that I didn’t believe in god. I was sixteen years old, and a girl at school, named Meri Latikeinen (whose name I have probably misspelled) scoffed at the idea of a god, and argued with me. She was from a different country, Sweden or Finland (I’ve long forgotten which one) and had a more secular upbringing. Within less than five minutes, I went from being a devout Roman Catholic to… not quite an atheist yet, but I knew that I probably didn’t believe in god anymore. (Thank you for the wake up, Meri!)

As I’ve grown older, I have less opinions that are based on emotion or gut feelings, and am more grounded in fact and evidence, and that’s a good thing. What brought this subject to my attention was a discussion with a friend last weekend. I’d shared an article that was negative about meditation, and my friend disagreed. Within two comments I realized that my opinion about meditation was wrong, and it is something that I could benefit from. Then I was immediately reminded of my feelings in my youth, when I felt bad about changing my opinion based on facts. But I shouldn’t feel that way!

Of course I still have opinions that are open to being changed by factual information, such as:

  1. Is sex addiction real? My gut tells me there is no such thing, and that it is a behaviour that comes as a side-effect of idiots snarfing too much cocaine or smoking too much meth, then denying the drug addiction and admitting to the behaviour instead.
  2. Kenye West sucks more than Taylor Swift.
  3. Eminem has no real talent (apart from a way with words) – he just lucked out that his angry-guy attitude when high on crack is so appealing to so many idiots everywhere.
  4. People are generally stupid.
  5. Most people will never get sarcasm, satire or parody.

Those, and many other opinions I hold are open to being changed. Some others, like the existence of god, are probably not. No person will ever convince me that god exists. If there was a god, he’d have to do it himself.

The bottom line is, changing your opinions in accordance with facts is a good thing. If we all did so, the world would be a better place, one where, for example, nobody questioned the good of vaccines, and global warming caused by us burning fossil fuels was a thing of the past.

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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
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