Harmful Opinions

Recently, two women friends adopted an opinion that isn’t true. They got this opinion from a certain segment of the media. As a result, it is now having adverse consequences for themselves and for their children. My point here is not going to be to favor one side of a particular issue over another, but rather the harm unverified opinions can wreak upon those that hold them, and, unfortunately, their children.

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Here’s the situation.

The first woman formed an opinion about a certain aspect of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare. This was that if you sign up for it through the government’s web site, your medical records will forever be public, available to a prospective employer, say, or to a bank when considering you for a loan. If true, of course, this would be a bad thing.

The fact is, it is not true. It is a lie propagated by elements of the political right wing who don’t wish the ACA to be successful, and so they designed this little tidbit of information to discourage people from signing up.

I’ll come back to their possible motivation for doing this in a moment, but here’s what happened. The first woman began to style herself an expert on the healthcare law after listening to right-wing media personalities and talking within her own circle of friends.

We used to call such media people opinion-makers. I suppose that term gives the secret away too overtly, so we don’t hear it very often any more. Nevertheless, their goal—beyond being merely entertainers—is to use radio and TV to form opinions in others by hook or by crook.

So this first woman decided Obamacare was evil based on opinion-makers she believed, without checking the facts for herself. Now we all do this all the time, because we live in a complex, fast-paced world and we don’t have the time to check out every little thing ourselves. This is a habit we’ve gotten into. We should, though, at least check out the big things, habit and convenience be damned.

Next, a conversation ensued between this first woman and a second woman. The first said she did a lot of research, although really she just exposed herself to extensive propaganda—false opinions masquerading as facts—and was now an expert. Don’t get Obamacare, she told the second woman.

Now the second woman knows the first woman is a good person, but she herself leads a busy life, and so doesn’t take time to check out the ACA herself. She takes the first woman’s opinion as fact and decides to also avoid Obamacare.

Here’s the Cost

The second woman’s family is paying a high monthly premium for their medical insurance. A different policy through the ACA might provide better coverage at a much lower cost. Too bad she accepted opinions that prevent her from even looking into this alternative.

The real tragedy, though, involves the first woman. Her family has medical insurance which also has poor coverage. The difference is, she has a child who desperately needs medical attention their policy doesn’t cover. “Too bad” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Ignorance Causes Fear

If someone keeps you ignorant of something, it is easy for them to make you fear that something by telling you things about it that aren’t true, things that they have made up to create this fear. Of course, they must be subtle about doing this, lest you become aware that they’re lying to you. They must create an entire oeuvre of half-truths of omission, and overt, interlocking lies of commission to hoodwink you, to hypnotize you into believing me.

Knowledge is the sole remedy against fear. Knowledge is the only thing that can fill up the empty vessel of ignorance.

In the present case, the fear of having one’s medical history exposed for all to view is dispelled by learning that this is false information. It is a mere, but in this case harmful, opinion.

Motive

We must always consider motive when considering someone’s opinion. This is not always easy to discern. Why, in the present case regarding the Affordable Care Act, would certain people not want other people to have adequate health care? Why would they want people to suffer with an illness or ailment that good health insurance could prevent or ease? People die all the time because they don’t have health insurance. You and I, in our heart of hearts, would wish the best health care for everyone. Who wishes the opposite?

At first, you might think the insurance companies might be against the new health care law, but they need as many people enrolled as possible so as to better cover additional costs due to new provisions such as the removal of limits due to existing conditions. No, the insurance companies are strongly for Obamacare.

Well, maybe it’s Big Pharma. Does having more sick people mean they could sell more drugs? No, because more people enrolled in a medical plan mean more doctor’s visits, not less, and doctors prescribe the meds.

Hospitals? No. People without health insurance go to the emergency room when their situation gets too severe, and this is the most expensive form of health care. Hospitals need to save money. They have every incentive to support high health insurance enrollment.

So it comes down to the politicians who push their anti-Obamacare agenda. Think it through. Since no group of their constituents will benefit from Obamacare failing, it must not be Obamacare they really object to. Maybe instead they object to President Obama himself. Maybe they object to his being black, and not to the law itself.

And so you see the final danger of adopting opinions of others. You don’t always know what their motives are. You don’t always know the origin of their beliefs, nor why they push them. Nor can you trust the media personalities that abet those false opinions. It can be a very convoluted and complicated mess to sort through, but when you take the time to figure it out, you may find you don’t really like their opinions after all.

Firsthand Knowledge

I am quite aware that you may regard my argument as merely my own opinion. I myself might be lying to you about Obamacare. Perhaps I work for a bank—or am being paid by evil banksters who really do want to see your medical history along with your credit history. Therefore, I would try to convince you your medical records will remain private when really they won’t.

Am I that unscrupulous? Have I sunken so low as to be in the pay of a nationwide network of nefarious loan officers? If you don’t know me, how can you tell if I have been telling you the truth?

Easy.

Take the time to find out for yourself. Get some firsthand knowledge. Pick up the phone and call the hotline. Ask some questions. In this case you can even make an appointment to talk in person with someone who knows all the ins and outs of the new healthcare law. This way you won’t have to rely on anyone’s opinion, including mine.

Ignorance and the fear it engenders cannot long stand in the light of knowledge gained by one’s own efforts.

Would that the gaining of knowledge be as easy in other spheres of human endeavor as it is here. Such as, for instance, the scientists and their media followers regarding the construction details of the universe. Which brings me to my final point.

Investment and Emotion

The opinions we collect and decide to adopt as our own beliefs are built up over a long period of time. We fit them each into an interlocking network of data points that we hope are each true. But what determines the things we accept and those we reject is not truth, but agreement—agreement with what we already believe. If some new item fits with what we already think is true, it’s easy to believe it, too.

The problem lies when we begin to suspect that whole chunks of our beliefs might not, after all, be true. Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance: trying to reconcile two opposing beliefs, facts, or opinions. Long-term emotional investments aren’t easy to give up. We don’t want to realize we’ve been wrong about something. Or maybe we don’t want to alienate someone who holds different beliefs. Or maybe we’re just lazy, and ignorance about a certain topic is okay.

We each have to decide the cost of our beliefs versus the cost of changing them. Especially where children are concerned.

1 thought on “Harmful Opinions

  1. Pingback: Belief Is Conviction Without Proof - fredcameron.com

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