This article discusses a phenomenon that I’ve noticed that also relates to TV news programmes. Namely, that in recent times all opinions are quite often given equal standing regardless of whether they are a matter of taste or scientific opinion. In other words it seems there is now mistakenly a widely held belief that all opinions are valid regardless of whether they can be disproven by factual evidence or not, which is frankly a bit dangerous in my opinion.
An opinion has a degree of subjectivity and uncertainty to it. The article identifies 3 types of opinion:
1. tastes or preferences
2. views about questions that concern most people such as politics
3. views grounded in technical expertise, such as legal or scientific opinions
It goes on to assert, the problem is that sometimes we implicitly seem to take opinions of the second and even the third sort to be unarguable in the way questions of taste are. Perhaps that’s one reason why enthusiastic amateurs think they’re entitled to disagree with climate scientists and immunologists and have their views “respected.”
There seems to be a commonly held believe now that everyone is entitled to their opinion and that everyone should have their views respected. This article is good because it outlines why this is not universally true.You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for.
If “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion” just means no-one has the right to stop people thinking and saying whatever they want, then the statement is true, but fairly trivial. No one can stop you saying that vaccines cause autism, no matter how many times that claim has been disproven. But if ‘entitled to an opinion’ means ‘entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth’ then it’s pretty clearly false.
On a similar theme is this article by Glenn Greenwald about the faux objectivity of journalists. The article is in reference to the US presidential debates and how the presenter Martha Raddatz in attempting to be objective fails and betrays her own view point. This I think applies very much to television news generally and specifically BBC News. It’s the reason I think that the BBC’s stance as an objective ‘public service’ broadcaster is dangerous. A lot of people still believe everything they hear on the BBC news is totally true because the BBC don’t have angle on anything. Aside from BBC news generally being mediocre journalism (well mainly the TV news) its obviously not true. Any regular listener to the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme will be able to tell you the political leanings of the presenters based on the interviews they conduct. Now that wouldn’t be a issue in most cases because everyone has an opinion, its human nature. What is dangerous about BBC news is the falsehood that its done with objectivity when it isn’t, if view points are declared then the subsequent information can be viewed in this knowledge. If not it gives a biased view without the audience necessarily realising.