When I say opinions are dumb I don’t mean your opinion is dumb or every opinion except my own is dumb, I mean the whole idea of an opinion is dumb, vacuous, and redundant.
My Dictionary defines opinion as follows:
a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge
On the other hand, a belief is defined this way:
something one accepts as real or true: a firmly held opinion or conviction
Neither an opinion nor a belief is necessarily based on facts or information, but rather both describe the position a person holds on a subject regardless of its foundation. They mean exactly the same thing. Saying “In my opinion…” or “I believe…” is the same as saying “I think…” or “It seems to me…” They all imply the same status of knowledge: provisional.
However, there is a functional difference. We have this mad idea that opinions can’t be wrong. You might tell someone they’re wrong and they might reply “It’s just my opinion!” as if that exempts their proposition from the laws of the universe. “I believe” has a similar conversational veto. It’s hard to find a conversational equivalence because we don’t use the words in the same contexts. Thinking something implies that you’re not sure, whereas belief implies such conviction as to bind the speaker’s very identity to the proposition.
All this confusion is predicated on a simple common-sense misunderstanding of what it means to know something. Descartes famously wrote “I think therefore I am.” making ones own existence the only fact that any human can independently confirm. Every other thing you think is true is a matter of probability. What that means is I only know one thing: that my mind must exists to think about what I know. It couldn’t think about whether or not it existed if it didn’t exist. I don’t know if my mind is attached to my brain and my body, if it’s really sitting in front of my computer, if there is a universe outside my window, or anything else.
And so everything you know about anything is a belief: a statement of what you suppose is true without being able to prove it definitely. And that’s why your opinions are dumb: because they are the same as the things you think are true and subject to all the same discussions and debates. Every opinion you hold for no reason can be deconstructed through the history of science and philosophy right down to fundamental truths about what it is to be. That’s what thinking is.
Besides their philosophical nullity, they are functionally destructive. Opinions are used in conversation as a label that people put on things they think are true but they don’t know why. If you don’t know why you hold an opinion, toss it. That’s the honest thing to do.
Lets do away with the opinion and stick with what we want, what we think, and how we think we can know what we think we know.