Is diversity of opinion a good thing?

In an ideal world, we all see the same reality; you confirm for me what I’ve seen, I confirm for you what you’ve seen (a reassuringly good error checking); we can confidently predict each other’s behavior instead of being confronted with people behaving batshit weird because they see things so differently, which makes it easier to trust each other, and so forth.

For some reason (and I do have ideas about what those reasons may be, but your ideas may differ), the world we inhabit is not very much like that ideal world.

GIVEN the latter situation, the thing to do is communicate as much as possible, not go around trying to stifle differences of perception, opinion, priority and so forth. If we communicate and make a real attempt to understand the viewpoints of people who see things differently, there is some hope that, like the proverbial blind men encountering the elephant, we can connect our observations with those of others and gain a clearer AND more universally acceptable picture of reality.

The problem with diversity of opinion when it comes to decision making, whether with your friends or national politics, is it leads to compromise. Who could hate compromise? When it’s the worst of both worlds and you end up with half a baby. A society that practices the opposite of our views can run just fine, as long as it’s allowed space to breath. As opposed to some sort of hybrid abomination, which is what usually happens. But that’s not always the case, sometimes compromise is good. Societies are probably too complicated to understand ahead of time which case it might be. There’s some fancy game theory term for this phenomenon.

Another downside of compromise is one side can always blame the others for ruining their plans. They’d still find an excuse for why their utopia failed to merge otherwise, but it’s easy to point to how you wanted to do X and Y, but the others made you do X and Z instead.

Studies on workplace productivity indicate diversity of race and gender increases productivity compared to homogeneous groups, but that it also has some negative psychological effects like feeling a lack of belonging and distrust of others. Whether this would track with diversity of opinion I don’t know, but it seems reasonable that if you live where everyone thinks the same you’ll feel a better sense of community. Echo chambers feel good for a lot of people.

Diversity of opinion is nice for the ruling class since it gives the impression a spirited debate is going on, whether that’s true or not. It lends them legitimacy. Didn’t get what you want? Oh well, just need to convince more people. You don’t hate democracy, do you?

The reason why pro-murder is the only rational stance is that in a fully pro-murder society, the anti-murder people are free to not murder. In a fully anti-murder society, no pro-murder people are allowed to murder.

Am I supposed to say I’m playing devil’s advocate there? I think it lessens the effect. I’m a lefty lib, but I end up arguing the other side a lot here for a variety of reasons. I wonder if anyone who remembers me from thread to thread thinks I’m schizo.

Grin! You’re simply embracing diversity of opinion within your own person!

And…that, too, is actually a good thing. We, as individuals, ought, by rights, to be “of two minds” about many matters and issues. We need to be able to “see both sides,” and even to argue both sides. An intellectually versatile person should be prepared to take a “devil’s advocate” stance, opposed to his true stance.

On Friday evening I meet with a small group of friends down pub, between us we cover a political spectrum with a diversity of opinion which is a good thing because each of us can bring something to the table. Diversity fails when people allow race, creed, colour and sex to determine the make up of the group, they have not been selected on what they can contribute to the debate just on who they are. This could lead to people who could make an important contribution to the group being omitted because to include them would upset the diverse balance of the group

The answer to your question is irrelevant in the end. There is, was and will always be diversity of opinions. In that sense it’s like asking whether rain is a good thing. You may think that it’s a bad thing ('cos you hate to get your hairdo wet) or that it’s a good thing ('cos you’re a crop farmer). No matter what your answer is, tomorrows weather won’t change one bit.

Or more practical: there’s just no way to make people think alike, only ways to make it look like that. North Korea and many other regimes have tried this with brute force and failed. A more subtle way btw is social exclusion: say (for arguments sake only!) I am of the opinion that having sex with young children is OK; I would never voice that opinion because I would be known as a child molester and could lose my job, my wife, my friends etc.

As for the hot topics you mention: these issues are best seen as convictions. Yes, I’m convinced that evolution is how we came to be. Yes, I think I’m right and creationists are wrong and yes I want the rest of the world to share my conviction. But I don’t think the world will be a better place if we lock up the creationists. I won’t even break off a friendship because someone confesses to creationism (I’d probably laugh in his face, but that’s beside the point …)

IMO the real question is not ‘diversity good or bad’ but how should we deal with it as a society. And I really mean society - politicians are worthless at this stuff.

Check out Ernest Gellners theories on ‘Civil Society’. One of his recurring themes is what he calls ‘modular society’ (cf modular furniture: design and make your own unique bedroom/kitchen/living from prefab modules). He regards a country as a healty democratic societie not primarily based on whether there are free elections for a parliament with real power etc, but on whether you can change your opinions and convictions without immediately being cast out by your clan/family/friends etc.

Am I still making sense?

Are you soliciting various opinions on the matter? Why?

Well, the OP didn’t ask if diversity of facts is a good thing…

I don’t believe for one second that anyone except the extreme minority of anti-choicers actually believe for one second that abortion is just like murder. These people claim that abortion is murder but the most they can do is donate a few bucks here and there, march a couple times a year, maybe make a few angry internet posts? If they actually thought abortion was murder, then every one of them should be out there killing abortion doctors (not that I condone it, just pointing out the cognitive dissonance). Where are they when women have periods and the egg fails to develop? Are they holding thousand dollar funerals for each lost egg as if they lost a baby? Sure they’re against stem cells, but are they staging hunger strikes or protesting in front of research clinics and colleges? Most of them do none of those things, and given the choice, I bet they wouldn’t save a petri dish full of eggs over one actual birthed human’s life. So your analogy is not correct. These people don’t really believe a fertilized egg or a fetus is the same as an actual human being, they know its lesser and by their behavior, they prove it. Therefore, pro-choice is the only rational path for society to have. It allows these people to moralize from their pedestals but leaves the rest of us alone. An anti-choice position would close off the exercise of rights for the majority of people while a pro-choice one wouldn’t

Evolution is indeed proven fact – not in a mathematically certain sense, but in any fair use of the term. There is simply too much evidence for any other explanation to be true.

Similarly, it’s certain that climate change is real, and it’s certain that man’s activities are a contributor to it. I don’t agree it’s “man-made,” because that term suggests that absent man’s activities, climate change would not exist, and geologic history shows that to be false. I think it’s more accurate to say that climate change exists and man’s activities are a substantial accelerant.

But then we get to the last claim.

Here, you depart from any proof and enter opinion. Whether God exists or not is an untestable claim. Evolution’s existence is testable: predictions about commonality of DNA across species and survival adaptations in response to environmental changes can be made and tested. Evolution’s predictions are correct and observable.

The existence of God is not a testable claim; it is neither provable nor refutable.

No. I claim abortion is murder. If that’s true, then your formula hits a snag, or you argue that a fully pro-murder society is free for some of its citizens not to commit murder, and is therefore a better choice (ha!) than the anti-murder society.

I oppose abortion for the same reason I oppose murder in general: I regard the proper role of society as protecting its members from each other’s murderous impulses. We agree on that, of course – we just disagree on whether abortion is murder.

These are a collection of strawman arguments.

I absolutely believe abortion is murder, but so is the killing of a doctor. Moreover, the doctor is acting within the law, and with his own good faith. He is mistaken, but not evil. This is the reason I don’t kill abortion doctors, yet still believe abortion is murder.

Nor would I hold a thousand dollar funeral if a pregnancy spontaneously aborted in an early stage. That’s not out of a lack of belief in the humanity of the lost life. It’s a recognition that funerals are a rite for the living, not the dead, and that we don’t mourn for such lost lives that way in this society, and never have.

And I agree I would not save a Petri dish of embryos over a birthed human’s life. But that choice is not a denial of the human quality of the embryos. It’s a recognition that the human life in the dish is incredibly fragile and unlikely to survive long, and the birthed human has a much better chance at life. Similarly, I bet you’d save a five year old child over a mini-van full of 90-year-old terminal cancer patients, without ever denying that the cancer patients were human.

IMO, the entire issue of whether abortion is “murder” or not is a strawman for purposes of this specific argument.

The only thing that’s relevant is that there’s a third party potential victim involved. Any time there’s a third party involved - whether the crime is murder or littering or anything in between - the argument that “let’s just let everyone do whatever they think is right” - is invalid.

A few posts in this thread are basically proof that we need diversity of opinion. There are folks out there who are incapable of nuanced thinking and go straight black and white. See YogSosoth as an example.

Since the real world is complicated, black and white thinking is rarely correct. If you have non-nuanced thinking and no diversity of thought then there is no challenge to bad policy or incorrect ‘facts’.

For example, Yososoth brings up Global Warming as a fact. Ok, which piece? Do humans affect the climate? Certainly. How much? That is a huge question and the estimates of TCR are all over the place that the real answer isn’t clear.

For example, TCR is Transient Climate Response. That means the transient temperature rise due to a doubling of CO2 at the time of the release. The IPCC has moved this number around quite a bit,it started at 1.5 to 4.5 °C in the Third Assesment Report (TAR), went to 2 to 4.5 °C for the Fourth Assesment Report (FAR) and then back down to 1.5 to 4.5 °C for the Fifth Assesment Report. However, Idso (1998) found a TCR of 0.4 °C in 1998, Andronova found TCR of between 1 and 10 °C in 2001, Forest et al. found TCR of 1.4 to 7.7 °C in 2002, Shaviv found 1.6 to 2.5 °C in 2005, Royer, et al. found TCR at 1.5 to 6.2 in 2006, Lizden and Choi found TCR at ~.07 °C in 2011, Ring at al. found TCR at 1.04 to 2.01 °C in 2012, Skeie found TCR at TCR at 1.8 °C, Fasullo and Trenberth found TCR of 4.0 °C in 2012, etc. So we have a range from 0.4 to 7.7°C.

So a very important number isn’t known and there is wide disagreement between scientists on this number. This number has a huge impact on what, if anything, we need to do about emissions. If Idso is correct, we don’t need to do shit. If Trenberth is correct, we need to bring down CO2 emissions. The policy implications of TCR are huge. If it is low then we don’t have to do much. If it is high, we need to do some stuff. Since addressing this issue is going to cost huge amounts of money and impact the poorest people the most, we really ought to have a damned good idea of what is going on.

Yet, according to Yososoth, questioning anything in this area is bad because Global Warming is a fact.

Push back is good. It should make everyone involved actually back up what they believe with hard numbers.

At the same time, I see a giant balkinzation of politics in the U.S. where both sides refuse to listen to each other and run to ‘safe’ places (like the SD for the more liberal minded or Breitbart for the more conservative) to gloat about how smart they are and how dumb the other guys are.


Well…yes. Except the pro-choice viewpoint denies the existence of a third party victim.

So “it’s murder” is rhetorical shorthand for the claim that there is a third party victim, and one deserving of societal protection. I say there is, but I recognize that few pro-choice advocates agree.

To some extent. But by focusing on “murder” it allows pro-choicers to dispute the position simply by denying the comparison to actual murder, without having to deal with the victim aspect.

As YogSosoth does here. The statement that “I don’t believe for one second that anyone except the extreme minority of anti-choicers actually believe for one second that abortion is just like murder” is saying that since very few people believe that it’s like murder in the fullest sense of the term, then it’s also unlike murder WRT whether the “everyone can do what they want” argument holds. This is not correct.

Divergent opinions are welcome in many instances, i.e.:

How should ISIS be handled?
How do we handle the growing deficit?
Who should have oversight of public education, local government or state or federal government?

But many things are black and white and divergent opinion is embarrassing, i.e.

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