Greetings, visitor of Anton World!
I have not written less casual post for some time, while this post is meant to have more serious tone, so it is quite challenging for me. I will be grateful if you can point out mistakes (especially grammatical mistake) and confusing points. I had a spark of idea before starting this post but then I got confused after the first couple sentences on how I should structure it and I got lost completely after erasing and rewriting this post multiple times. (>.<)
I wrote in my previous post about how reinterpreting adjective could brighten your perspective. In this post, I want to talk about how being critical can serve a similar purpose. In a broad sense, it is a call to be critical on all information you received, but to encourage its usage, I want to show you that it is useful in mentally deflecting or crushing negative opinion before it sinks into you (and even better, it can help you in debate!).
I have compiled some tips in challenging opinion. Do note though that it is a list I created from my experience and thought, so it is debatable and expandable. I hope it will be useful for you!
“Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat” or Presumption of Innocence
This is the first thing you have to believe: you are not wrong unless you are proven wrong. “Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat” means “the burden of proof is on him who declares, not on him who denies”. It is a Latin expression that has become a general rule of evidence in Roman Law and even now in the modern era. So if somebody throw an opinion on you that accuse you of something, do keep you peace of mind. If they can’t present proof to support their opinion, it doesn’t worth your thought.
Aim for the Adjective and Adverb
It is very rare that opinion doesn’t have any adjective and/or adverb. They are the first things you should aim for. Your room is so messy/ why can’t you do it faster?/ You are so lazy. Notice that “messy” and “lazy” are adjectives, while “faster” is an adverb. You can look at other sentences and find them yourself. Now that you have pinpointed them, let’s move on to another thing…
Sometime a very common statement we hear can be an opinion that might be misleading, especially when there’s no clear indicator included. One of the main differences between fact and opinion is the usage of indicator or hard numbers. Factual statement will be something like: 80% of adult female population in Jakarta earn 15% less than average male wages. Opinion statement will be something like: A lot of female in Jakarta earns very small wage. Both tried to send a similar message, but they are different. 80% of adult females is indicator that states majority of adult females (more than 50%), while 15% less than average male wages is indicator that states the amount is lower male’s; both are indicators of equality in pay. You can see that factual statement gives you information that you can assess yourself, while opinion statement just give you a conclusion someone else has made.
So the next time people tell you that you are lazy. Ask them what’s the indicator of laziness. They can’t give it to you? Well, dismiss their statement and don’t think about it.
I joined my company’s choir for Independence Day of Indonesia (70th birthday). A day after the event a colleague approached me and tell me that the choir performance was very bad. I ask him if he’s a jury in choir competition. Nope. He’s a senior choir member? Nope. He has degree in choir-logy? Nope. Well, he can shut up ’cause he practically knew nothing about choir. Of course all of that reply I mentioned is just in my mind; in reality, I just smiled and nodded. Got my point?
Validation and Verification
Someone might tell you that they caught you sleeping every time you are in class. Ask that person if everyone in the class can support that statement. That person can’t? Well, don’t let it bother your nice day. A lunatic can cry how the world is going to end today; a shady alternative medicine peddler can advertise that its medicine can cure death; a student can write a phony research paper. But they are not reviewed or supported by acknowledged group of expert or independent party, and so it’s normal, in fact common sense, to doubt them.
And that is all. It’s the tips that I can think of for the moment. Do you have any other tips to share? Or your own experience? You just want to criticize? Advise? Anything you want to say, put it below on the comment section or the chat box in the right.