Only Your Opinion?

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There’s nothing “Only” about it. It is your opinion and you have a right to it. Right?
The trouble is that too often we act like a feeling is the same as an opinion. That is one of the most dangerous mistakes a person can make. Opinions take thought to form and feelings have no IQ at all.
Feelings are important, even vital, but people who try to think with their feelings often make terrible decisions. Feelings have to be put under your “thinking cap” along with actual facts in order to form a real, useful opinion.
The word opinion comes from the ancient Latin, opinor, which means I think…most definitely not I feel. If somebody asks for your opinion, be careful if you hear yourself say, “Well, here’s how I feel about that…”
Without facts to back them up, opinions are as counterfeit as money without the government to back it up.
There is another word for opinions formed from feelings alone, according to 20th century writer, E. B. White. He said, “Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.”
That’s the trouble with jumping on crowded opinion bandwagons driven by popular, even respected people. I’d rather borrow your toothbrush than your opinion… if I haven’t done all the looking under rocks, all the delving into corners and lots of thinking-about-it for myself. Respect your opinion enough to earn your own.
An opinion based on peer pressure is a ticket to ride on the Dummy Line. Albert Einstein once said, “Few people are capable of expressing with poise opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
But maybe that’s too harsh. We have to go someplace to get our facts and that’s often to the experts who know more than we do. Respecting their opinions is wise, it’s just not enough.
You can’t be an expert in everything, but you can become knowledgeable for yourself if something is important enough to have an opinion on. That takes work, but when is the last time you learned something new, fascinating and useful and didn’t feel good about it? The world is our very own “brain gym.” Enjoy the workout.
So this week your Jamestown Gazette invites you to Chautauqua Institution, not just to read other people’s opinions about it, but to take a trip for yourself. It’s an especially wonderful and charming place to visit before the ticket booth opens later this month.
A controversy is brewing there over the difference between an old building and a new one. It gets exciting when you realize tens of millions of dollars are at stake and a perfect storm is brewing over opinions, feelings and “authorities” wrangling over the matter.
Our front page this week offers what we hope is a balanced sampling of some facts and thoughtful opinions on both sides which we gathered right on site. We haven’t “picked a side” for ourselves. We only want to whet your appetite enough to tempt you into taking a look for yourself.
If you go, enjoy the tour. And today, enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut
Editor
The Jamestown Gazette

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.