On the Topic of Subjectivity

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."
-Unknown, possibly Daniel J. Boorstin
One thing that I see regularly in our culture is a confusion between the subjective and the objective. While people know the difference between them once confronted, it is common for people to treat them as the same in their day to day lives, even to the point of refusing to acknowledge the difference when confronted. Today, I'll be going over what it looks like to treat something subjective as objective, and why we need to be aware.

Let's look at a popular area where people's subjective opinions are substituted for objective reasoning. "Bow ties are cool." This is a common statement for people to make ever since The Eleventh Doctor popularized it in the TV show Doctor Who. The same has also been said of fezzes. The problem here is that "bow ties are cool" is being spoken as if it were fact rather than opinion. To be technically correct, one would say, "my opinion is that bow ties are cool." ("Cool" in this case is being used in the sense of pleasing or favorable.) Of course, when one says "bow ties are cool," the fact that it's simply their opinion is implied, and they don't need to specify that in most cases. The issue arises when this opinion is confronted. Doctor Who is popular, and thus, it is also popular to hate it. Some people will therefore say, "bow ties are not cool." Wallace the Whovian has an emotion reaction to this, and insists that bow ties are cool. Hugh the Hater responds that this is just Wallace's opinion. Wallace ignores this, however, continuing to insist that nope, bow ties are cool.

As I stated previously, I enjoy Doctor Who, and would even consider myself to be a Whovian (or, Doctor Who nerd). But opinions are still just opinions. My opinion is that fezzes are cool, because they're a type of hat, and I enjoy hats. This is my opinion. If you don't like hats, I will not hate you. I will disagree with you, but my opinion of you will not be lessened in any way. While people may claim that statements like this are "just a game," or "just joking around," when we look at how common this is and how it affects people in real life, it can't be written off as nothing.

We are constantly exposed to this in our culture, so that we forget that our opinions are not facts. This causes a detriment in reasoning as our thought processes change to fit the culture. Rather than defending our opinions as fact based on an emotional response, we must acknowledge our opinions as opinions. When we don't, we start talking about how chocolate is necessary for existence and Doctor Who is the meaning of life, and while we speak of them as jokes, we don't treat them as such.
"Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish."
-Euripides

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