The Effort Required to Have an Opinion

I’ve been thinking about the amount of effort required to have an opinion.pareto - effort

What drove this strain of thought: I was having a conversation with a subject matter expert and I voiced my opinion.

He replied, “That is certainly an opinion, but to have an accurate opinion, you need to do a lot more work.”

How true.

The amount of effort to have an opinion is zero.  My 11 year old son will have an opinion about anything you ask him.  Trust me, A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

The amount of effort to have an accurate opinion is a lot more than you may realize.

Sometimes it is the cursedly clear and unwelcomed set of answers provided by straight thinking that makes us mental slackers.”  -Robert Cialdini

To be a successful analytical thinker, you must be willing to consider competing ideas.  Sometimes you may not welcome those competing ideas.  What if they are valid?

Analytical thinking is difficult and requires effort, but attempting to identify and mitigate biases may be more difficult.

Anyone can have an opinion, but to have an informed opinion, the effort is considerable.

Biggest Change

One of the biggest changes in how I approach a problem or analysis has been the effort to move from a binary, black and white thinking to a probability thinking.

An example, I try and no longer say silly things such as “Candidate A will not win that campaign.”  That is simply not a true, logical statement.   Candidate A by being on the ballot has some probability of winning that race.  The probability may be extremely low, but there is some probability.

“Candidate A chances of winning that race are below 10%” is a much better way of expressing my thinking.

When one starts thinking in probability terms, one’s entire perspective changes.  Things not possible, become remotely possible.  Things that are 51% certain are no longer “certain.”


One becomes a clearer thinker when one becomes aware of the probability of being wrong; thus forcing one to put in the required effort to arrive at a better analysis/opinion.

Bottom line, I think the political scene needs more humility in our thinking.

About Alex Patton

2 Responses to “The Effort Required to Have an Opinion”

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  1. Jon Doles says:

    I enjoy hearing you on Tuesday mornings. Keep up the great work.


  1. […] far as my opinion’s worth, I put in an incredible amount of work to have an opinion.  If fact, I have been studying and a practitioner of politics at a high level for most of my adult […]