The adage, ‘empty debes (tins) make the most noise’ has proved itself right time and time again – a phenomenon that suggests that the loudest people are the least knowledgeable about a particular subject matter. This behaviour highlights how as human beings we sometimes care more about being heard than we do about being knowledgeable about what we are talking about. We often portray our own uninformed opinions as fact and to make matters worse, shove it down other people’s throats.

It is very easy to have an opinion, but a whole different thing altogether to have an informed or educated opinion. Psychologists say our opinions are based on our surroundings – a passive result of the information that is fed to us and if one is not careful, they will continue peddling their ignorance to their own detriment and those who look up to them.

We have become a gullible society and believe others’ opinions as facts because we are lazy to conduct due diligence on the veracity of a statement. No wonder fake news thrives in this era. It is thus very important to think for your own self, thoroughly evaluate facts and deduce an informed opinion as a result.

What is an informed opinion?

These are opinions based on observation, rational consideration, and knowledge of the relevant background material. The most knowledgeable people on a particular subject matter have more informed opinions on that topic and should be called upon to be authorities in guiding public opinion as they have devoted the most time and effort in understanding and analysing the topic. Note, they only have informed opinion on the topic they are most knowledgeable about, not overall.

Unfortunately, some people in positions of power abuse the trust the masses have on them and get into the habit of commenting on every issue, some utterly unrelated to their areas of jurisdiction. Be that as it may, responsible and knowledgeable people cannot afford to be “too busy” to educate the masses. If so, we will end up with a society that has excluded itself from the decision-making process at best, and at worst a society voicing uninformed opinions on very important matters.

This is not to say we keep mum on issues that affect us. Still be as passionate; just be knowledgeable while doing it. It is okay to say you don’t know enough about a subject matter or to say that your opinion is not backed up by research. Use that uncertainty to catalyze a hunger to know more and
make an informed opinion.

A guide to making informed decisions

Learn: Understand there is no limit to knowledge and use every opportunity to learn something new

Source: Seek for a credible source to present you with all the facts

Listen: Explore with an open, non-judgmental mind. Listen to understand, not to reply

Test: Discuss with other people and see if your opinion holds water