It is to my surprise that many people tend to believe their opinions are inherently sacred, or that they’re at least worthy of being untouched by criticism simply by virtue of the fact that they themselves uttered the respective affirmations.
Such convictions are not only apocryphal, but they are simply wrong. EVERYONE’S opinions should be criticized, regardless of whose face they come out of. There is no need to abuse the appeal to authority fallacy or the appeal to incredulity fallacy, unless you do not value reason that is.
Even though my convictions on this topic should be completely innocuous, there will be many people who will vehemently disagree with me. They will say, “Well, everyone’s entitled to their opinion.” Yes, while this is true, this does not mean that we must, nor that we should value everyone’s opinions as if they were indisputably veridical or ethical.
It should be crystal clear to everyone reading this that there are people in this world who withhold barbarically grotesque and extremely dangerous beliefs and opinions regarding how we should treat other people.
And for the following examples, these opinions are not covertly kept nestled away in the minds of their associated thinkers. No, their opinions are but the precursors to mass suffering, persecution, and toxic immorality which any sane or rational person would find incomprehensible.
The following picture was taken showing a group of ISIS members throwing a man accused of being gay off of a tall building to make the point that homosexuality is bad. If beliefs such as this should be valued by virtue of the fact that they are derived from a “sacred” religion, then perhaps you are simply too brainwashed to see how truly disturbing and disgusting this common practice truly is.
Image source: HAARETZ.com
What about in India where 68% of people believe that someone suffering from mental illness should not be given any responsibilities? Or even more ethically vacuous, which is the belief that one of the main causes of mental illness is the lack of self-discipline and will-power. An embarrassing 60% of Indians withhold the aforementioned opinion.
This entire study (including 3,556 participants in 8 different cities) can be read here: TLLLF National Survey Report.
What about the opinions of the rapists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a place which is considered as “The Rape Capital of the World” and “The most dangerous place on earth to be a woman”? Should their opinions on feminism be respected and valued or should we use our brains and be honest with ourselves and come to the reasonable conclusion that everyone’s beliefs should be criticized and that no one’s opinions are sacred.
To say that everyone’s beliefs should be valued or respected is to say that the foregoing examples of rational negligence are not only okay, but that they are also impervious to criticism. This is completely insane and has serious consequences that can easily be empirically observed.
In The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris eloquently states the following:
…it is important to realize that our inability to answer a question says nothing about whether the question itself has an answer. Exactly how many people were bitten by mosquitoes in the last sixty seconds? How many of these people will contract malaria? How many will die as a result? Given the technical challenges involved, no team of scientists could possibly respond to such questions. And yet we know that they admit of simple numerical answers. Does our inability to gather the relevant data oblige us to respect all opinions equally? Of course not. In the same way, the fact that we may not be able to resolve specific moral dilemmas does not suggest that all competing responses to them are equally valid.
I can go on and on giving you examples of people thinking and behaving irrationally, oppressing minorities, and psychopathically exploiting others, but I hope that my point has been made so to not belabor it. It is indeed true that your opinions are not sacred, and neither are mine.
Feel free to disagree in the comments below. Just know that your opinions are indeed worthy of criticism.
Thomas is the founder and CEO of PsychTimes.com. He deeply enjoys writing about psychology and ethics. Besides writing, he’s also deeply interested in the many different aspects of search engine optimization.