The Most Important Thing I Teach My Students

The Most Important Thing I Teach My Students

You Are Not Entitled To Your Opinion

There are no right or wrong opinions unless you have invalidated yours for having ignored facts that conflict with them – Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Whenever I say, this someone always says “well, you can’t tell me what I can and cannot say or think.”  In general, I agree with this.  If  “entitled to an opinion” only means everyone has the right to think and say whatever they want, then the statement is true, but that truth is relatively trivial.  I would even say it would be silly for me to tell you that you aren’t entitled to believe for example that Lebron James is better than Michael Jordan.  Even though this is probably not a commonly held opinion, there is no real way of testing it (like the earth is not flat, or gravity doesn’t exist).  Opinions become problematic when the next step is taken, and the word opinion is interchanged with “I can say what I want without criticism.”   In that way, challenging an opinion is seen as “rude,” and worse doesn’t disqualify their argument’s credibility.   An opinion is a view or judgment of something. So by definition,  it has a certain degree of subjectivity and using it as a defense only works in certain situations.

So sure, you can have an opinion, and I think it would be foolish of anyone to deny you that. However, the moment you offer your opinion up as a credible alternative to a problem, you are only entitled to what you can prove.

What is this important to you? There are lots of things that happen all around us every day that we accept as facts, when in fact, they are just opinions. How we define business, and how we define the roles of design and technology in business are just a few things that are heavily steeped in opinions.  In the past, I have said “Challenge Your Sacred Cows” to address this. Maybe a better way of  saying this would be “Is your sacred cow really a unicorn?”

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