As the old adage goes: “Opinions; everyone’s got one!” (That’s the clean version, of course!)
But it’s not just *what* opinions you hold that matters; it also matters how you got them.
One important distinction that I’ve always been very conscious of is between Formed opinions and Received opinions. Formed opinions being conclusions that you arrive at through experience, observation and critical thought, while Received opinions are those you have heard from others and accepted as truth with little scrutiny.
In this post, I introduce the two approaches that lead to these different types of opinion: the Conquerer and the Explorer.
- Appraise value from afar
- Find the fastest way to get to a point
- Plant a flag
- Defend that point at all costs
- Take their time familiarising themselves with an area
- Draw maps, which they alter, enhance and update over time
- Welcome, even encourage others to explore with them
- Take directions from others who have gone before them
Conquerers are all about taking ground by force and then standing their ground firmly against all others. In the context of ideas, the Conquerer is somebody who forms an opinion with little evidence or deep knowledge and then staunchly defends that opinion from any counter argument. Once the opinion has been formed, the Conquerer’s priority is to not be seen to lose ground. Admitting to being wrong is seen as a weakness, and so the Conquerer will work hard to prove himself right no matter what new evidence is presented.
Explorers are interested in understanding a region from multiple perspectives and mapping out the terrain and its contents intricately. With respect to ideas, the Explorer is likely to take more time to form an opinion, and to be comfortable admitting to ignorance or uncertainty. Once the Explorer has formed an opinion, he will still be open to new information or counter evidence, happily adjusting his opinion to suit reality.
- take a firm position without being fully informed
- do not like to appear ignorant under any circumstances
- defend that position despite strong evidence to the contrary
- are most interested in being seen to be right
- take their time collecting information before forming an opinion
- are comfortable admitting ignorance or uncertainty
- consider counter arguments and evidence that may be contrary to their opinions
- are most interested in being actually right
The map is not the territory.
~ Alfred Korzybski
Never theorise before you have data. Invariably you end up twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.
~ Sherlock Holmes ( Arthur Conan Doyle, A Scandal in Bohemia)