Millions Believe This Stupid Opinion, Logical Fallacy: All Opinion Are Equal. They Believe: This Is Good Ethics. No, This Is Bad Arguments, Not Thinking, Bad Thinking.

 HOME  IDEA EMPORIUM  IDEA 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * 9 * 10 * 11 * 12 * 13 * 14 * 15 * 16* STUPID OPINION * HOW TO THINK     updates



swirl updates - elsa's creativity emporium


explorations on ...

and more ...

Paranormal Proof
Warnings of Danger
Sept 2009

Feed the Bears?!
bears starving
Sept 2009

What's Narcissism?
and what's wrong with it?
Sept 2009

Fatal Flaw in
Economics of Growth

Aug 2009

Hard Lessons About
Islamic History

August 2009

Deceptive Advertising
and Islam

July 2009

Conservative America
bad thinking
June 2009

The Ultimate Reality
are all religions equal?
Mar 2009

The Brain Game

good thinking,
great thrills
Mar 2009

Collective Guilt &
Political Correctness

past horrors,
current baggage
Feb 2009  MORE  ALL

MORE ...

Lots of Thinking!
A Celebration
of Thinking

Mar 2009

Western Tolerance,
Islamic Intolerance
Muslim outrage, Western
blindness - seen through
my curious eyes
Jan 2008   INTRO

MORE ...

Imagination -
Hope and Horror

not just make believe
Dec 2008  MORE   ALL

Open Secret on
Surviving Recession

Nov 2008  ALL

Bush, McCain, Palin -
Armed & Dangerous

Oct 2008  MORE   ALL

or Para-nutty?
proof of life after death
or wishful thinking
Sept 2008  MORE   ALL

Political Correctness
and Fundamentalism

Jan 2008   MORE   ALL

Autism, Vaccines -
and Parents

May 2007  MORE   ALL

Gambling -
Great? Gruesome?

May 2007  MORE   ALL

How To Think -
Tip Number One:
Ask This One Question

Apr 2007  MORE

Walls in the Mind,
They Cripple and Bind

inner walls,
invisible from within,
frustrating for outsiders
Jan 2007   MORE   ALL

Don't Keep it Simple -
Keep it Alive

mental challenge -
the thrill of a lifetime
Dec 2006   MORE   ALL

Animals and Ethics
a childhood NO to a god
Dec 2006  MORE   ALL

Whose Dog Is It?
pets, ownership, slavery
Dec 2006   MORE  ALL

The Rottweiler Pope,
The Danish Cartoon
and Muslim Moderates

the pope's remarks -
help or hindrance?
Sept 2006  MORE  ALL

Mirror, Mirror,
Who is that Horror?

on the rage of the
righteous when coming
across mirrors
Sept 2006  MORE  ALL

A Dangerous
Temptation -


the lure of hating back
Sept 2006  MORE  ALL

Bush the "Righteous"
illusions, delusions, lies
Sept 2006  MORE  ALL

The Pope Speaks
outraged Muslims protest,
kill nun, demand apology

Sept 2006  MORE   ALL

Give Peace a Chance
by giving empathy
a chance
An Open Letter to
All People, and
for now, especially
all Muslims -
Feb/Aug 2006   MORE

The Rage
of the"Righteous"

on Muslim outrage
at a Danish cartoon
Feb/July 2006   MORE

This Is Not Me
but it's a tempting
disguise due to the


stupid opinion #1
all opinions are equal
Aug 06  MORE  ALL

logical fallacy
opinion #2

you are where
you are supposed to be
Aug 06   MORE   ALL

Collective Sense of Guilt
Crazy Not Thinking

past horrors,
current baggage
Feb 09  ALL

Breaking the Spell
of Irrational Opinions

rule #1 - don't start by
calling it a stupid opinion
Aug 06  MORE   ALL

stupid opinion #3
everything happens
for a reason

stupid opinion #4
everyone always did
the best they could

stupid opinion #5
we shouldn't
be judgmental

stupid opinion #6
all religions are
basically the same

stupid opinion #7
all cultures are equal


idea space
elsa's creativity emporiumelsa's creativity emporium
Opt-in for Updates


Idea Emporium?
why? what?
plus exploration of the
definition of "idea"

exploration of
the word

innerwear that dares
innerwear for those
who dare -
The Idea Emporium



7 motivations

Elsa, Brain Trainer


top of page



- more -
coming soon




top of page


elsa's creativity emporiumelsa's creativity emporium
Opt-in for Updates





elsa with ideas

Millions Believe This Stupid Opinion, Logical Fallacy:
All Opinion Are Equal. They Believe: This Is Good Ethics.
No, This Is Bad Arguments, Not Thinking,
Bad Thinking, Lack of Critical Thinking.

We're born with the capacity to learn how to think.
All too often, people don't develop that capacity.

Stupid Opinion #1: All Opinions are Equal

It seemed so self-evident to me, that all opinions are not equal in value,
in validity, in worth. I had no idea it was something worth discussing.
And then there it was - THE WALL.
I had virtually a whole class of college students rigidly against my opinion.

They held onto their opinion, that every opinion was equal,
as if to believe anything else was to be some kind of bigoted monster.

But what about the equality of people of all races, of women and men, I asked, thinking that for sure they would agree. And they did - but were adamant that it was just a matter of opinion. So there I stood in front of the class, with black students agreeing that they too believed, like me, that all races were equal, but they were at the same time absolutely sure it was just a belief, an opinion. And women students likewise held that, like me, they believed in the equality of women and men, but unlike me, they were convinced it was just an opinion, and all opinions were equal.

But what about slavery, I asked, wasn't that wrong?

Opinion. Just an opinion. Of course they were against slavery, but it was just an opinion. I was stunned, especially when black students adamantly held that.

One or two students sided with me - they got as little hearing as I did.

All opinions are equal - is this a logical fallacy?

I tried logic. If all opinions were equal, then things would be both true and not true. So women would be both equal to men, and not equal to men. Slavery would be both right and wrong. Beating children would be both right and wrong. That was the same as saying two and two equaled four, and did not equal four. A contradiction. A logical fallacy.

Forget it. Who cared about logical fallacies. Contradictions were irrelevant - or worse. Students looked at me as if I was mad to say that if things contradicted themselves, they could not both be true. What mattered was not attacking the sacred cow (and equally, I would hold, unsacred cow) of THE ABSOLUTE EQUALITY OF ALL OPINONS.

I was stunned, as stunned as if I had suddenly found myself in a society which looked exactly like mine, but where people believed parents had the right to kill babies at birth.

Yes, there is a logical fallacy.

Who are we to judge what is right and wrong, they held. It's all a matter of opinion - and then ANOTHER SACRED COW: everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Okay, I said (though I am not quite convinced of that).

But, I continued, that does not mean that the opinions themselves have equal value. So you may be entitled to hold the opinion that you may beat your newborn to death, or (a more common opinion) that you may beat your teenage daughter to death if she is seen with a boy, but that opinion leads to action - and the opinion is not as valid as the opinion (based on inherent human rights to self determination) that as we grow up, we increasingly have the right to make our own life choices, as long as these do not harm others.

Here a few of my students went into shock. You could hold any opinion you wanted. After all, all opinions were equal.

Plus, more shock, what was I saying? That opinions connected with action?? That made no sense to them. Opinions were just opinions. It was just something you believed and (going back to a favorite mantra) ALL OPINONS WERE EQUAL.

Not thinking - not even bad arguments, bad thinking.

How could opinions be separated from action, I countered. Of course they connected with action. Do you think Hitler had a high opinion of Jews, and yet set up concentration camps to kill them? Or do you think (as the record shows) that he had a very negative opinion of them, and that this opinion came long before the concentration camps. In other words, the opinions fueled his behavior.

Over and over, I said, you can see how opinions lead to action. The people who acted for equal rights of people of all races BELIEVED in the equality of people of all races. Likewise people who acted for women's rights, the rights of gays and lesbians, children's rights, animal rights.

Aha, they went en masse. See, it's just a matter of belief.

Is it, I asked. Can we not show that people of different races have equal value, that women and men, people with differing sexual orientations, children and adults, have equal right to life and to develop their capacities?

No. Absolutely not. It was just a matter of opinion. And therefore (over and over again), while they might share my opinion that men and women were equal, they were absolutely totally against my opinion that my opinion was not just a matter of opinion.

"I know someone racist," went one student. "And he never says anything bad to anyone of a race he doesn't like. That shows that not all opinions lead to action."

It took me from one class to the next to think of the answer. "No, it doesn't mean that opinions do not lead to action. The person who is racist but does not say nasty things to members of those races most likely has the opinion that it isn't nice to do so, or the opinion that he risks getting beaten up if he says anything. So once again, you will find an opinion relating to his actions. You need to look at the many opinions a person holds. Plus, I haven't said there is always a direct line between opinion and action - just that our opinions, including opinions we may not even be aware of, have an impact on our behavior."

But how to get them to actually engage in thinking about the impact of opinions? - instead of their rigid not thinking, because they didn't offer even any bad arguments to support their beliefs.

Not thinking and more not thinking - not even bad arguments, bad thinking - truly a stupid opinion.

I could not even get them to see that my opinion (that all opinions are not equal) was as good as theirs (that all opinions are equal). But it had to be, I said. Because if all opinions are equal, then the opinion that all opinions are not equal is just as good as the opinion that all opinions are equal (yet another bit of evidence that their opinion made no sense, was a logical fallacy - that their opinion held that two things were equally true, when only one could be true).

Good ethics? Is this the reason for this stupid opinion? A desire for good ethics?

What is going on here, I ask.

ONE. To some extent I know. For a long time, many people held damaging opinions not backed the evidence - on racial inequality, on the right of people to enslave other people, on the right of one sex to dominate over another, on the right of people to declare another religion wrong, on the right of people to take land away from other people. So Christians were sure that their religion was the right one, etc.

Good that we stop holding those opinions.

Easy to go to the other extreme - once again not backed by evidence - that no opinion is better than another. This is all the more likely if there is a deeply internalized sense of guilt and shame - very likely entirely invisible, entirely unknown to the individual - about the pasts This may come out as senseless unthinking political correctness.

TWO. Some people hear, "Not all opinions are equal" to mean "Your opinions are wrong and mine are right. Plus, for all things there is only one right opinion." That's far off base. It just means we both need to be able to back our opinions, see which makes more sense, if one or the other opinions might need more research (or to be ditched), to recognize difficult areas, etc.

THREE. It requires people to think, and think logically. It puts a few easy responses off limits: "Well, that's my opinion, and that's all there is to it." "Everyone has a right to their opinion." "I have as much right to my opinion as you have to yours, so there too." Thinking - not something a lot of people like to do. Holding an opinion is easy. Voicing it is easy too, for many people - even mouthing off loudly and repeatedly. Thinking things through - that's much harder. It requires ... thought, thinking, research, analysis. Eeks, not so easy.

FOUR. It requires people to discuss with each other, listen to each other, evaluate what they have said and thought, and what the other has said and thought. Much harder than each person to have an opinion in a warm cozy cocoon, where no one has a right to challenge it. "It's my opinion. Don't you dare touch it. It's mine, and that's all there is to it. And of course I wouldn't dream of touching your opinion either. After all, it's yours, all yours, sacred."

FIVE. It requires people to refine their thinking. Maybe some aspects of an opinion make sense, and others don't. Maybe some need further thought, revision.

SIX. It requires people to break other current taboos - like judge other cultures. This is a huge taboo. Even to dare to think that anyone could possibly have the right to judge another culture is off limits. Of course we have the right to judge, I go. Why ever not? And likewise people from other cultures have the right to judge ours. My parents, when they came to Canada, saw the huge wage gap between women and men, the lack of child care, the lack of medicare, and they very rightly judged - along with quite a few native born Canadians. Why should they have had any less right to judge?

The benefits of doing the thinking are huge - it's an exercise program for the brain, the same as a bit of a workout for a couch potato. But we all know that many couch potatoes are very resistant to doing any exercise. The same goes for people with mental barriers (like the belief that all opinions are equal) against thinking. Our society has so many people with mental rigidity - for instance, "political correctness." Mental rigidity means much cannot be seen recognized, explored. One is supposed to "see" (not-see) the world through the lens of unchallenged assumptions/opinions.

Stupid opinion triumphs! Stupid opinion holds back the forces of good thinking! Yeah, stupid opinion!

Many students absolutely can not hear what I am saying and what I have written. "So you're saying that we have to count how many people believe something, and you're saying that's the right opinion."

My answer: "Have you read what I wrote?"

"Yes, I read it all." (???!!!)

"So what do I say?"

A blank. A total blank. When I ask for the answer, it finally comes from a student not educated in Canada - and in this case, not subjected to years of being told all opinions are equal. He answers easily, "Evidence."

"Does that make sense to you?"

"Yes, sure. Of course."

A Canadian student appears close to tears. "But who am I to judge?"

"You want me to judge for you?" I ask.

She shakes her head. She just does not want judgment. The suggestion that she could possibly have to judge opinions makes her look as if someone has beaten her.

Another student has a tight closed look on her face. "Whatever you say," she mutters. In other words, my words have bounced off her. She knows best. All opinions are equal.

I think, Wow. Amazing. (And how frustrating.) I cannot imagine being so closed to taking in info. So this is what Galileo and Copernicus were up against, I think, when they tried to get others to see - as all the evidence suggested - that the earth rotated around the sun, not the other way around.

One student, silent during the class, stays and talks to me afterwards. She is in police tech. My opinion on opinions makes sense to her. Looking for evidence - she's knows that's important.

Fear of responsibility plus not thinking, bad arguments, logical fallacy, stupid opinion.

An aside. I have just thought of what is often called voter apathy. How much is apathy? If you vote, you take responsibility for your decision. Your vote may have consequences - Bush in the White House., for instance. You may also make a decision you later deeply regret. It's easier to mouth off and do nothing - very often, to stay with the opinion that you can't make a difference.

I also think of an opinion so many of my students hold, as vehemently as they hold the opinion that all opinions are equal - the opinion that all politicians are crooks. (But if all opinions are equal, then that opinion has no more weight than the opinion that all politicians are divinely inspired.) These students tend to hold their opinion with utter rigid conviction - without checking out the range of behaviors of different politicians. And once again, their opinion means they have no responsibility to do anything (as all politicians are crooks and any effort is futile).

Not thinking, bad arguments, bad thinking - and thus stupid opinion.

In a way, there has been a lack of change regarding opinions. Many unfounded opinions used to be widely held (and thinking about them was off limits). Now the equally unfounded opinion that all opinions are equal is widely held (except by the most traditional students, who often are adamant about opinions founded on belief, not on evidence - especially relating to gays and lesbians, male-female equality, sex outside marriage).

To ask for evidence asks a lot more of people. As I've noted, it asks them to think, and to think logically. It asks them to go out and back their opinion, to found it on as much information as possible. It asks them to figure out which source is reliable and can be used as evidence, and to what extent. A quick rote answer is not enough.

Not thinking, bad thinking, bad arguments - and so, stupid opinion.

A question I am left with is: what has happened in the local education system (Montreal, Quebec, Canada - but it is highly likely that the phenomenon is more widespread than that) that students come out of high school with the opinion that all opinions are equal - and at the same time they hold many opinions where they are convinced they are right (abortion is a woman's right or it is not; the government is wrong or right is all kinds of ways, especially here in Quebec around language; gay marriage is right or wrong).

What are you saying, I want to ask.

ONE, how can you believe any of your opinions are right or wrong, if the opposite opinion is equally right or wrong?

TWO, if all opinions are equal, it follows that the opinion that all opinions are not equal is just as good as the opinion that all opinions are equal. Yes equals no.

THREE, if all opinions are equal, then why should not all behaviors be equal in value? Why should any behavior be truly worse than another? Isn't it just a matter of opinion that murder, say, is less good than playing cards?

FOUR, if all opinions are equal, why are people encouraged to get a second opinion when faced with a major illness (or even major car trouble). It only makes sense to go for more than one opinion if some opinions are better (have a better chance, if followed, of leading to health or to a lower car repair bill) than others.

FIVE, if all opinions are equal, why are we bothering with research, with getting more facts, finding better ways of doing things (including more effective ways of reaching students). In fact, I haven't wanted to stop with the opinion that some opinions are better than others. I also think that by looking further at the question, maybe I will come to a better way of reaching more students. In other words, it won't be just an unresearched unbacked opinion that this is a more effective way. It will be (as all opinions should be) as backed as possible backed by thought, experience, research, evidence.

Doing good research, getting evidence - necessary to solve crime. If there are two opinions - he did it; he didn't do it - it would be absurd to say, well it's a matter of opinion, and all opinions are equal, and everyone has a right to their opinion. If two detectives talked that way, it would sound like a comedy skit.

(As aside, if one has an unbacked opinion - say, a quick first impression - the best thing is to acknowledge this.)

Back to, not stopping with an opinion, going on to getting as much evidence as possible. With teaching as well, by seeing what happens in class, by experimenting, I've found some approaches work better than others - because it has been far more than once that I have met the opinion that all opinions are equal. In fact, it's something I think all parents and teachers should look at and explore, to break the spell of this rigid (and inaccurate) opinion.

Good ethics, stupid opinion, not thinking.

One thing that I am sure plays into students being sure that all opinions are equal is another belief held by the vast majority of them, that they should not be judgmental - as if making good, well-founded judgments were not an important human activity.

It used to be said that someone had "a good head on their shoulders," meaning that they had "good judgment." Now judging is judged (in another of those bizarre standards - where the only evil seems to be judging) as a major vice.

But you are being judgmental, I say to my students. You are judging. Just like the people who hold that all opinions are equal are being opinionated - you are once more holding that you are right and everyone else (no matter what the evidence) is wrong.

As for what I've found works best for me, on the one hand, nothing has worked all the time. On the other hand, some things have at least sometimes worked with what, out of frustration, I can't help calling a stupid opinion:

Breaking the Spell of Irrational Thinking.


brain trainer,
always looking with ideas cooking,

September 3, 2006

copyright © Elsa Schieder 2006-2009, all rights reserved
publishing house - FlufferDuff Impressions 2009, 2011

smart comments

blue green idea

IDEA about something seen as a STUPID OPINION *
EVALUATION of evidence about this seemingly STUPID OPINION *
CONCLUSION about the not thinking, bad arguments, bad thinking, logical fallacy
about the STUPID OPINION *

blue green idea

Stupid Opinion One: All opinions are equal.
Believed by many ardently, rigidly.
But it means racism is as good as anti-racism.
The Idea Emporium -
facts, logic, critical thinking, good judgment.

The Idea Emporium - stupid opinion debunked

One of my lifelong concerns has been trying to make sense of reality. And with that I come to ideas -
ideas about reality, ideas that need to be checked against reality, not just believed in like the tooth fairy
is accepted by a child. Like, is it a stupid opinion that all opinions are equal. Is it a stupid opinion that we should not be judgmental? And just what might it mean, anyway, stupid opinion? For me, it's not seeing
what is right in front of you - and instead believing something that goes against the evidence.

At some point, walls against seeing come tumbling down. Galileo and Copernicus eventually prevail
over those who hold that the earth is the center of the universe.

We will see when the current walls protecting current logic fallacies crumble to dust,
leaving everyone astounded that anyone could ever have believed such a stupid opinion.

In the meantime, I'd like to be a small part of whatever it takes to get those walls to fall.

clear thinking trainer,
always looking with ideas cooking,

February 21, 2009

copyright © Elsa Schieder 2009, 2011, all rights reserved
publishing house - FlufferDuff Impressions 2009, 2011

Millions Believe This Stupid Opinion, Logical Fallacy:
All Opinion Are Equal.
They Believe: This Is Good Ethics.
No, This Is Bad Arguments, Not Thinking,
Bad Thinking, Lack of Critical Thinking.

blue green idea


blue green idea



swirl updates - elsa's creativity emporium



idea emporium


idea emporium




For More Stimulating
FREE Updates.

swirl updates - elsa's creativity emporium
Why register?
Click here for
3 more good reasons



top of page



Elsa's Adventures in Internet Land


home      about      site map      privacy policy      terms of use      contact

design, site construction - Elsa Schieder
copyright © Elsa Schieder, 2006-2015 - all rights reserved
copyright ©, 2006-2015 -
all rights reserved