14 votes

Why/when do you encourage diversity of opinion?

I sort of want to casually throw this discussion out there, because I feel like this is something people sometimes mention in the same conversations without agreeing on it's fundamentals. Especially when talking about sites, like Tildes, leaning too much towards one particular worldview.

What is the goal of having diverse opinions? Why do you think it is necessary or desirable? Is it for a practical reason, or for a more ideological/principal one? What is the barometer by which you measure whether or not the level of achievement of a such a goal? And do you think it could produce undesired secondary effects?

To perhaps give a concrete hypothetical: do you think Tildes would benefit from it if we had more members who are of the opinion that the Australian Bushfires were caused in large part not by Anthropogenic Climate change but by, deliberate malicious actors (arsonists)?

Or if you disagree with the example what would your hypothetical be?

17 comments

  1. [5]
    ibis
    Link
    I personally don't find much value in having a diversity of opinions for the sake of diversity. But I do find value in having a diversity of people. Having a diversity of people will lead to more...

    I personally don't find much value in having a diversity of opinions for the sake of diversity. But I do find value in having a diversity of people. Having a diversity of people will lead to more perspectives being brought to the table, more world-views being considered, a wider range of background knowledge, and it will reduce the bias in the overall discussion.

    12 votes
    1. [4]
      Grzmot
      Link Parent
      Sounds like same difference to me. Different people will have different opinions because of their experiences. Having different people for the sake of diversity is just as non-productive as having...

      Sounds like same difference to me. Different people will have different opinions because of their experiences. Having different people for the sake of diversity is just as non-productive as having a lot of opinions for the sake of diversity. Fun fact is though, that the two usually go hand in hand.

      1. [3]
        ibis
        Link Parent
        It's not the same thing though. It's specifically different to the example OP provided, and it is not the same thing as what the media does when the bring in, for example, pro-vaccine and...

        It's not the same thing though. It's specifically different to the example OP provided, and it is not the same thing as what the media does when the bring in, for example, pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine advocates for 'balance'.

        Having different people for the sake of diversity is just as non-productive

        It's funny you should use that wording, because the current scientific consensus is actually the opposite 1, 2, 3.

        11 votes
        1. Grzmot
          Link Parent
          My point was that people who are different, say a man and a woman, but hold exactly the same opinion won't bring anything interesting into a discussion. But due to how society works, that man and...

          My point was that people who are different, say a man and a woman, but hold exactly the same opinion won't bring anything interesting into a discussion. But due to how society works, that man and the woman will in a realistic scenario never have exactly the same opinion, thus by diversity of perspective you will usually also gain diversity of opinion. I'm not disagreeing with you, just trying to understand how the two differ from each other.

          4 votes
        2. Death
          Link Parent
          Thank you for the sources, I'll be taking a look at them later :)

          Thank you for the sources, I'll be taking a look at them later :)

          3 votes
  2. [3]
    vegai
    Link
    Discussion with people of all opinions is the only way to truth, at least if most participants are talking with good faith.

    Discussion with people of all opinions is the only way to truth, at least if most participants are talking with good faith.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      Death
      Link Parent
      This is a little broad as a statement and I'm not sure I fully understand what you mean by it. Could you elaborate a bit?

      This is a little broad as a statement and I'm not sure I fully understand what you mean by it. Could you elaborate a bit?

      1. Akir
        Link Parent
        I'm not @vegai, but I think I get what he's trying to say. People in general are poor at understanding the subjectivity of ideas. By having more opinions voiced, one can get a more full...

        I'm not @vegai, but I think I get what he's trying to say. People in general are poor at understanding the subjectivity of ideas. By having more opinions voiced, one can get a more full perspective of the subject at hand, which in turn helps you more finely analyze the subject and formulate a more reasonable solution, resolution, or response.

        3 votes
  3. smores
    Link
    It feels to me like context is extremely important here. In a workplace, diversity of background and upbringing is crucial to creating the best products and services. People are just worse at...

    It feels to me like context is extremely important here. In a workplace, diversity of background and upbringing is crucial to creating the best products and services. People are just worse at empathizing with customers that are different from them, and having employees that look more like your customers means having thoughts and ideas that are more likely to represent the thoughts and ideas of your customers.

    Similarly (and probably even more importantly), in places like government, healthcare, education and academia, the reason to introduce diversity of backgrounds is to make sure that a narrow worldview doesn’t exclude people that should be represented.

    Notice though that none of this has been explicitly about diversity of opinions, especially not political ones. It’s definitely not about including conspiracy theorists or bigots in your bubble (I think that would specifically defeat the purpose, actually). It’s about including people with a broad and diverse set of lived experiences, which improves our communal empathy for the audience we’re serving.

    I think this applies to Tildes as well, in the same regard. Yes, I think it would be beneficial to have fewer straight cis white 20-35yo masculine males (proportionately) and more of everything else on the sites that I frequent, because it means I’m far more likely to hear stories that actually broaden my perspective because they’re about lived experiences that are sufficiently different from mine.

    I feel like I have more thoughts here but I’m kind of losing my own thread, so I’m gonna leave this as is and maybe come back to it.

    6 votes
  4. [3]
    Grzmot
    Link
    Discussions like these at the end always boil down to the whole tolerate the intolerant paradox. Diversity of opinion is a good thing, because in an ideal situation, people will discuss and hash...

    Discussions like these at the end always boil down to the whole tolerate the intolerant paradox.

    Diversity of opinion is a good thing, because in an ideal situation, people will discuss and hash these things out, ideally reaching a compromise in the process, whereby both people learned something or found a solution to a problem everyone is satisfied with.

    The problem is, that people don't really work that way; firstly, there are opinions which cannot be discussed in a rational manner, like the opinion that the world is led secretly by some secret, usually jewish cult, that global warming is a hoax et cetera et cetera. Secondly, people can't always reflect on their opinions and change them that easily, especially if they feel personally threatened or attacked in a discussion. Thirdly; the people who hold harmful opinions described in the first point aren't always the same people as in the second point. However, often people in discussions get on high horses and declare the other side as evil or demonic or a snowflake or whatever, at which point the entire discussion becomes pointless.

    Essentially I'd like to foster a climate on Tildes where people hold very different opinions, but are willing to engage in a discussion, learn something and perhaps admit that they were wrong. I don't have a problem with sharing a platform with someone who genuinly believes in the American Second Amendment or something like that, as long as we can talk about it in a rational matter. The problem lies with identifying people who hold harmful opinions like declaring climate change or vaccines as a hoax by the Chinese and removing them from the platform, without catching someone in the process who simply has a different conviction than you, but is willing to talk about it.

    As to your example: I wouldn't have a problem talking with someone about it, but I assume that the data would show pretty quickly that's it's really fucking hard to burn the entire area of Belgium as an arsonist. I'm willing to be proven wrong though, and there have been instances of people in Australia burning shit during the bushfires.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      timo
      Link Parent
      Isn't the problem not that they were caused by arson, but that the fires could only have become so big because of climate change? These two ideas are not necessarily contrary.

      As to your example: I wouldn't have a problem talking with someone about it, but I assume that the data would show pretty quickly that's it's really fucking hard to burn the entire area of Belgium as an arsonist. I'm willing to be proven wrong though, and there have been instances of people in Australia burning shit during the bushfires.

      Isn't the problem not that they were caused by arson, but that the fires could only have become so big because of climate change? These two ideas are not necessarily contrary.

      1 vote
      1. Grzmot
        Link Parent
        You bring a very valid point, and I think one that would seem natural to someone supporting the arson theory. The problem is that a lot of people would just immediately dismiss the initial point...

        You bring a very valid point, and I think one that would seem natural to someone supporting the arson theory. The problem is that a lot of people would just immediately dismiss the initial point and stamp whoever brought it up as a conspiracy theorist.

        1 vote
  5. timo
    Link
    I believe you don't necessarily need to have opposing views to have an interesting discussion. Discussion with minor differences of opinion can actually be just as interesting. Measuring success...

    I believe you don't necessarily need to have opposing views to have an interesting discussion. Discussion with minor differences of opinion can actually be just as interesting.

    Measuring success is quite difficult, but it would look something like:

    • The discussion needs to stay open for anyone to join.
    • People shouldn't feel like they want to get out of the discussion.
    • Use facts to support your argument.
    • Attack arguments, not people.

    By these rules alone, it is clear that discussions often aren't that successful. I also dislike the notion of "winning an argument". It usually helps no-one except the winner. That usually isn't the point.

    2 votes
  6. [2]
    aphoenix
    Link
    I think it's important to have a diversity of opinions, but a common understanding of facts. In your example, it's not worthwhile to entertain people who think that anthropogenic climate change...

    I think it's important to have a diversity of opinions, but a common understanding of facts.

    In your example, it's not worthwhile to entertain people who think that anthropogenic climate change isn't a thing, because the simple fact is that it is. It has nothing to do with opinion; it's basic, observable science. People who think otherwise aren't expressing an opinion, they're being an idiot. In the same vein, we should not listen to people who make claims that 2 + 2 = 5 or other verifiable nonsense.

    Difference in opinions are important though, and they tend to come in places where it's not possible to draw factual conclusions from science or math. To circle back to your example, there are a few climate change related opinions that are commonly expressed:

    • the human race is going to go extinct as a result of the changes we have wrought to our environment
    • we can fix what we've done

    Both of these have space for discussion inside the realm of opinion. Neither side is conclusively supported by scientific fact, and it's definitely something that we should discuss.

    2 votes
    1. Death
      Link Parent
      I understand what you're saying and I agree in spirit. But I'm finding it increasingly hard to apply this in real life, if only because it seems like we're continuously moving the needle on what...

      I understand what you're saying and I agree in spirit. But I'm finding it increasingly hard to apply this in real life, if only because it seems like we're continuously moving the needle on what we consider both based in facts and true and what we consider factual but not true. Not to mention the fact that a lot of malicious political actors seem to have this increasingly Nietzsche-inspired view of the truth as a malleable construct whose purpose is to argue a position, not inform it.

      2 votes
  7. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    Absolutes are frequently excessive when it comes to this kind of thing. So diversity of opinion is certainly a good principle, but absolute diversity of opinion is not.

    Absolutes are frequently excessive when it comes to this kind of thing. So diversity of opinion is certainly a good principle, but absolute diversity of opinion is not.

    2 votes
  8. Kuromantis
    Link
    Always, as long as we're working towards the common goal of improving our opinions and feel like a cohesive block doing so. Diversity must never come before Unity (in wanting to understand why we...

    Always, as long as we're working towards the common goal of improving our opinions and feel like a cohesive block doing so. Diversity must never come before Unity (in wanting to understand why we believe the things we do) and Openness to change your opinion and accept you're wrong if the other argument convinces you enough. If these requirements aren't met we either get bad faith arguments from people who just want to win a feud or echo chambers.

    1 vote