“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, 1927 – 2003, American politician and sociologist, US ambassador, a member of four successive presidential administrations.

Bill: “I am entitled to my own opinion”

No, Bill, you are not!

Moynihan, in essence agrees: You are not entitled to your own opinion unless your facts are correct.

Who are you, Bill, to have an opinion on XYZ? Where are the facts? Do you have proper argumentation? What do you really know about the subject? Have you studied it thoroughly, and are you able to acquire and process information on the subject intellectually?

Have you demonstrated integrity and consistency in your life, Bill? Is your life and knowledge consistent with your “opinion”? Why should people listen to you just on the merit of you “saying so”? Point the rest of us to where you have written anything publicly. Don’t you know how to write? “Verba volant, scripta manent“, Bill.

Why is your “opinion”, reserved for a select few, whom you feel safe from, ones you know will side with you? Psst, hey, Bill, those agree with you not because of the validity of your “opinion” but because of their own hidden agendas.

The only reason, Bill, that you keep circulating your “opinions” is that you remain unpunished. If you knew you would be punished for distributing false facts and unfounded opinions, you would have cringed.

We should make the diacrisis between opinions and “opinions”:

Ellie has Opinions

An opinion is a well-documented position on a particular subject matter, backed by facts and valid arguments. Opinions are not governed by any hidden agenda. Ellie is well-informed on the subject she is expressing an opinion on.

She has the capacity to acquire and process information intellectually. If she doesn’t have the facts, or the subject matter is outside her domain of thorough understanding, Ellie pulls back in her study room. She learns and self-corrects constantly. Ellie is confident and is using rational thinking to formulate her position. Ellie puts her opinion out in the open. She has nothing to hide.

Bill has “Opinions”

Bill’s expression of “opinions”, on the other hand, is a deliberate act to hide the facts because this suits his hidden agenda. The subject he is formulating a position on is just the surface, if that. (Bill is often off-topic.) Something else is always lurking underneath, in the darkest corners of his psyche.

Bill doesn’t even have the capacity to acquire and process information intellectually. He is not interested in rationale and intellect. In fact, he is mocking Ellie for …being smart. Unbeknown to him, however, Ellie, armed with her intellect, the truth and the crude facts, is well-protected against Bill’s unmanly attacks. She is able to quickly expose him.

Why is Bill so eager to voice his “opinions”?

Inner Conflicts

Most likely, Bill barricades behind his “opinion” as an attempt to hide or mask his own inner conflicts and phobias.

For example, if Bill’s “opinion” is that “Trump is a good president”, despite the mounting evidence that he is unfit to govern and that he is in fact dangerous, he may be actually hiding an inner conflict on whether discriminating people based on race is a good thing. (Trump does discriminate over race: Wants to throw mexicans out of the country, and block access to all muslims.)

Likely, Bill is a racist, but he fears the consequences if he admits so. His easy way out is to simply hide “safely” behind Trump (here are 16 examples of Trump being racist) and 63 million others who support him and fabricate “opinions” supporting Trump, without presenting any evidence. For example: “Muslims cause terror, we are safer without them”. But turn here for the actual facts: “Muslims are not terrorists: A factual look at terrorism and Islam“.

Plain simple, Bill’s opinion” that Trump is a good President”, could be nothing else other than his attempt to hide the fact that he is a racist himself.

The desire to belong to a social group

Then again, Bill may be forming “opinions” (or rather aligning with ones that others express) just to create the false sense of belonging to the specific group that has put that “opinion” forward. Of course, just the fact that an “opinion” is supported by millions, doesn’t make the “opinion” right. (See my short essay on On Right and Wrong.)

For example, look at the 2017 U.S. general election. 63 millions voted for this mentally unwell individual, who as of May 2017, 5 months after his election, is still in power. Yet his supporters, and despite all the evidence, that he is unfit to govern (more reading here), are still behind him! (Polls show that his job approval ratings have only decreased slightly.)

In their “opinion” he is fit to govern and they still support him. They guard that “opinion” with everything they have (it’s not even THEIR opinion, it is Trump’s) because acceptance of Trump’s outrageous positions, they think, is proof of their acceptance into a specific social group.

The “Trump” group gives Bill identity, it defines him. In this case, it’s a group that says “America belongs to Americans, and I am an American, therefore it’s okay to stop millions of muslims from entering the country“. Even if this translates to violating basic human rights.

Bill is desperate to belong

(Updated, July 17, 2017)

Even if you believe your own claim, Bill, that Ellie is in a box, the assessment that she will like you only if you fit inside her box, is YOURS, Bill, not hers!

But what really makes you think Ellie is in a “box”, Bill? 

Ellie reached out to you many times. With gifts, which you chose to return. That’s why she is indifferent to you now, Bill. Keep jabbing. All is good 😉

What I find fascinating is that in essence Bill admits my whole claim: That Bill and Ellie represent two entirely different groups of people in our societies. Ellie – Bill says – “lives in a box”, and therefore she is unaware of Bill’s world. Hence his admittance of the existence of the two worlds: Ellie’s (“in a box”, Bill says) and Bill’s (outside the box, Bill insinuates.)

Indeed, Bill and Ellie live in two entirely different worlds. Who of the two is really “in the box”, if one exists, is an entirely different story!

What’s hidden deep inside Bill’s short post is his burning desire to belong in Ellie’s group. But he just cannot. So, he turns Ellie’s world into the sour grapes in Aesop’s fable.

Bill circulates stuff he finds on Social Media. (Tell us something YOURS, Bill.) All kinds of other “Bills” rush to “like” and confirm Bill’s “revelation”. Bill thinks he can even put words in Ellie’s mouth. And …problem solved. Or so he thinks.

There is more. Bill is unstoppable:

I came here as an immigrant looking for a new identity. I am now an American. 63 millions of Americans support Trump, who wants to throw out all immigrants. I am eager to belong to that group, because it defines my American identity. Therefore, I side with Trump (and his 63 million supporters) and his “opinion” that ‘The [mexican immigrants] are bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.'” (Read “Trump Warns of Diseased Immigrants Coming Across the Border” and “How to trump Trump“)

“Opinions” as a tool to support an alter-character.

Bill is not in peace with his image, or his past (I am not examining here why this happens. Hint: childhood). However, and instead of admitting his past mistakes, wrong choices and wrong-doings, and working on explaining and treating his discomfort by seeking professional assistance, he attempts to create and project an alternate character (an avatar) to society. One that is healthy, he thinks.

It’s a cover-up.

Today’s Social Networking exacerbates this problem. With its plethora of online tools for hiding one’s true identity and character, it has become very easy for Bill to express “opinions” that match his projected avatar. Bill fools himself (and attempts to fool others too) into truly believing he is someone else. Here is an example:

Common Sense

Look at this picture of Clint Eastwood’s tough character from a movie. It is accompanied by an “opinion”, presented as HIS opinion. (Or his character’s.) This, and other similar “opinions” circulate widely on Social Media.

Bill is quick to circulate it, in essence presenting the argument as valid just on the merit of endorsement by a famous avatar. (I’m not sure Eastwood even said this line in any of his movies, but of course even if he did, it was within the context of his movie character – another fabricated avatar.)

Bill thinks: “Clint Eastwood said it, then it’s right, and it’s cool, so I believe him, and now this becomes my “opinion” too. Now, I am cool too.”

But here, the problem is deeper than that. Of further interest is that Bill, in fact, admits he has bad grades and low IQ. In other words, he admits he is …”fucking stupid”. Then, in an effort to hide his stupidity, he attempts to reverse the argument by aligning with a famous actor’s movie lines (these are not even Bill’s own words).

In essence, Bill tries to underrate good grades and high IQ (which he doesn’t have) and overrate “logic and common sense” (which he thinks he has).

Bill’s “opinion” on stupidity is a clear attempt to support the avatar he projects to society. It’s the avatar resembling the actor’s avatar. “I agree with Clint, therefore I am like Clint”. Whatever that means. Welcome to Bill-land!

Ellie is not …”fucking stupid”.

Bill cannot fool her. Ellie, of course, knows that one’s capacity for valid reasoning ought to be part of most definitions of intelligence. She could challenge Bill on the easy ones, for example question his ability to define “common sense”.

She could go a bit deeper and argue that Bill chooses “common sense” simply because in the sphere of “widely accepted” there can be no debate. Bill does not have the capacity to debate. “Common sense”, therefore, suits him.

Or Ellie could get to the bottom of this and further challenge Bill: “Common sense is a fabrication by ‘fucking stupid’ people, in an attempt to hide their ignorance, lack of knowledge and lack of judgement”.

How come a highly intelligent person is not aware of something so commonly and widely known? (If you answered “because he is fucking stupid”, then go back read this section again, Bill.)

But Ellie knows that treating unequals equally is very unfair. Bill is not able to listen, let alone comprehend Ellie’s argumentation. It is unfair to expect Bill to follow. He just cannot. (Further below I discuss Ellie’s remaining options.)

(Sidenote: I advise my martial arts students never to trust “common sense”, but instead use logic, their knowledge and their past experiences to make proper judgements.)

What if Bill is simply not smart enough to realize he is dumb?

In fact, this is the premise behind the Dunning-Kruger Effect. People’s ignorance is often invisible to them. Psychologist Dunning explains:

Poor performers in many social and intellectual domains seem largely unaware of just how deficient their expertise is. Their deficits leave them with a double burden—not only does their incomplete and misguided knowledge lead them to make mistakes but those exact same deficits also prevent them from recognizing when they are making mistakes and other people choosing more wisely.

The knowledge and intelligence that Bill requires to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed for him to recognize that he is not good at that task. If Bill lacks such knowledge and intelligence, he remains ignorant that he is not good at the task. This ignorance adds fuel to the engine of developing and expressing “opinions”.

Bill may simply be not smart enough to realize he is dumb.

He truly believes his “opinions”, or others’, which he serves as his, as-is and unprocessed.

In fact, this phenomenon may explain how Trump in the U.S. ended-up accumulating 63 million voters, who still support him (May 2017) despite the mounting evidence that he is unfit to govern.

Ellie aggravates Bill

Ellie’s superiority and wisdom intimidates and aggravates Bill.

As I have examined above, Bill is eager to hide his true beliefs (i.e. his racist views), is eager to “belong”, and is ready to protect and further enrich his avatar (his alter-character) by all means. Ellie, with her true version of the facts, intellect, knowledge and rational thinking, intimidates him. He is terrified of the idea that Ellie can spill-the-beans, and uncover his true identity. He is scared that, if exposed, his whole new personality and projected image will come tumbling down with disastrous consequences to his well-being.

Bill attacks Ellie

“On my absence, they can lash/whip me.”

Ακούσας υπό τινος λοιδορείσθαι, «Απόντα με,» έφη, «και μαστιγούτω.»

(When he heard that someone was bashing/making fun of him, he said: “On my absence they can go as far as whip [lash/flog] me”.)

– Aristotle, 384-322 BC, from Diogenis Laertios

In his continuing efforts to protect his avatar, and keep the lie going, Bill attempts to tarnish Ellie’s name and keep her away from his social circle. He never misses an opportunity to backstab Ellie. If it was possible, Aristotle argues, he would go as far as physically exterminating her. (This is not at all hypothetical! Not necessarily against Ellie, but we have seen how Trump’s supporters used violence against their opponents.)

Bill’s lifelong practice has evolved into avoiding to face the real issues. As examined above, the truth doesn’t suit Bill. Ellie has always been warm to Bill. A symbiotic relationship, nevertheless still warm. She even offer Bill gifts.

But Bill suddenly turns hostile. He returns Ellie her gifts. He starts spreading lies and “opinions” among overlapping social circles (others with “opinions”), without offering any facts, and without being able to form a concrete thesis. Bill declares war against Ellie.

Bill’s war becomes dirty, just like any war. He goes as far as including Ellie in a general invitation to his party, hiding the fact that he returned her gift.

The devious plan is obvious to Ellie: Bill intends to refer to her absence from his party as “proof” against her, to others and to himself.  “I invited Ellie but she didn’t even reply” sounds like a justified tarnishing of Ellie’s name and what she represents, at least to the uninformed 3rd party, whom Bill masterfully hides the facts from. Or so he thinks.

“But in a democratic society everyone is equal”

This “argument” is thrown on the table every time Ellie questions someone’s capacity to form an opinion. In my essay Equality Has Become a Paranoia, inspired by a related quote by Aristotle (384-322 B.C), I examine how the equal treatment of unequals is grossly unfair and unnatural.

Why should Bill’s and Ellie’s positions carry the same weight? Bill should stick to circulating his “opinions” with his equals. He doesn’t have the capacity to understand Ellie’s rationale. Bill cannot have a fair chance competing with Ellie. In my article I explain that what we call The Law of The Jungle is natural, absolutely fair, just and  impartial.

Why does Ellie care?

Bill’s “opinions” and skewed perception of reality affect Ellie in a multitude of ways:

Bill attracts more like him, for the reasons examined above. “Opinions” become propaganda. Before we know it, the phenomenon gets out of hand. We end-up with Hitler. Millions of people die as a consequence.  If Ellie wants her children to live in peace on this planet, she cannot be apathetic.

Bill brought Trump in power, a candidate unfit to govern. Governed by an incapable president, the U.S. may lose its  grip on power. Authoritarian regimes lurk in the shadows, ready to step-in. The consequences could be disastrous. Ellie’s own well-being is at stake.

Unless Ellie acts, the next “Trump” awaits for HIS election!

The problem is perpetuating

Elli is the carrier of the truth. In an effort to hide his incompetencies and hide the truth, Bill attacks her. He spreads lies and attempts to tarnish her name. How can she remain indifferent?

Bill’s incapacity to listen has turned him into this annoying frustration, into someone completely incapable of acquiring and processing information intellectually. He is not easy to ignore either, because of his omnipresence, which spans graciously over oceans and continents.

Bill is everywhere.

 So, what can Ellie do about Bill?

Bill must be stopped. But Bill won’t even listen, simply because he doesn’t have the capacity to listen.

In Equality Has Become a Paranoia, I explain why I find the current voting system of 1-person-1-vote grossly unfair. I propose a weighted point system, which would semi-autonomously help elect the most capable ones in power. This would minimize Bill’s “voice” on important matters that affect us all, and amplify the voice of those who in fact know what they are talking about.

Of course, that’s just a theory for now. We are not yet prepared to accept that not everyone’s vote should carry equal weight. We barricade behind the notion of “Democracy”, which has become such a misunderstood term. I hope that in 100 years (if Bill doesn’t destroy us all first) we will have turned into sensible and effective citizens, globally.

That leaves Ellie with only one possible and applicable course of action, at the moment: Punishment.

Bill “speaks” because he is not afraid of any consequences.

Take Cyprus, for example. In my article Το Ψευτοδίλημμα of Feb 2013 (in Greek), right before local presidential elections there, I point out the gross inconsistencies expressed by voters on the island.

For example, supporters of a pro-Greece party march and rally carrying their symbol, the Greek flag, but their own leader, in fact, wants to bring a resolution to the Cyprus problem that abolishes the Greek flag. (He fiercely fought for the Annan Plan, which, among other things, proposes a new flag.)

Another gross inconsistency is that the two largest political parties on the island present themselves as polar opposites (only to mount their supporters firmly behind them, away from any other opponents) while their position on the biggest issue on the island – The Cyprus problem of the Turkish invasion and its consequences to-date – is exactly the same!

Under other circumstances and in other countries, such behavior would be categorized as “treason” and punished with imprisonment, at minimum. In Cyprus, however, a land of “Democracy”, where “opinions” come a dime-a-dozen, people are left to their own devices.

Had you known you would be punished for your treacherous “opinions”, you would have cringed, bastards!

Εάν ξέρατε ότι υπάρχει τιμωρία για τις προδοτικές σας “απόψεις”, θα είχατε λουφάξει, τσογλάνια!

Some people in Cyprus even wanted to “crucify me” for bringing out the truth and for my views on the specific subject. Their “opinion” was that simply because I am away in Canada, I cannot have a say in the matter. I replied wondering how people know the moon exists without going there themselves. The attack and my response is in Τερατώδη Ανθρωπότυπα (in Greek), which loosely translates to “Monstrous Anthropo-types”.

Bill should be punished.

If Bill (and voters in Cyprus, and Trump’s supporters) knew there would be consequences for his actions and “opinions”, he would have cringed.

Bill survives and thrives because he remains unpunished. 

One effective form of punishment

In 2010 I engaged in an online “discussion” with a group of 20-somethings (and some older) who thought they had opinions on the issue of homosexuality. Their wrong assumption that I was against homosexuals led to a whole slew of comical “opinions” and unfounded accusations through an unprecedented online attack they unleashed against me in a spectacular showcase of bullying.

The whole story, along with their punishment, is in my essay “Homosexuality as a Matter of Choice“.

What really matters

In the greater scheme of things, Bill is of no particular interest to Ellie. His entitlement to an opinion just on the basis of equality, has indeed become a paranoia. As I grow older I begin to “see” what is of real importance, and how “diacrisis” is such an important notion, right down at the root of things.

Bill and Ellie are similar (both humans) but substantially different. They are unequal. As such, according to Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), treating them equally would be grossly unfair. And it is my conscious decision to keep discussing this subject, but only with Ellie. And Aristotle.

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“Opinions”. When people remain unpunished

Before you contact me, please make sure you understand that Bill and Ellie are fictitious characters, which I created for the purpose of this article. They are metaphors, representing groups of millions of people. However, I also made it abundantly clear that their resemblance with real people, and relevance to specific events is not entirely coincidental.

I am always interested in a debate, but not in a “debate”. I do not respond well to blubbering and nagging, or to unsubstantiated claims, or to attempts to distort what I am saying. I am very much interested in your opinion, if you have one and you care sharing it. However, I am NOT interested in your “opinion”. If you wish to attack my views just to hide or mask your Inner Conflicts, sorry, I’ve got nothing for you.

I reserve the right to publish only comments I consider appropriate and useful for everyone. My blog, my rules.