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being best
monkey think self philosophy evolution
monkeytalks
Like most four letter words, "best" is a word that people can sometimes mean in different ways and like those other words, it causes a lot of problems.


Like most four letter words, "best" is a word that people can sometimes mean in different ways and like those other words, it causes a lot of problems.


Recently, I got into a bit of an argument with a friend about the top 100 guitarists as rated by Rolling Stone magazine. Normal people would just argue about the positioning and who should have or should not have made the list. Normal people say things like, “Sure is hot. How bout them Mavericks? Yeah, but not as bad as the Rangers. Hey, can I have a hit off of that?” But I don’t have normal friends and am therefore less prone to normal conversation. My friend says, “I just think the idea of a bunch of people who don’t play guitar rating guitarists and then a bunch of people who don’t play guitar complaining about it is funny.”



While I take no issue with his being amused with anything, I do take issue with the implication of his statement. First, it presumes to say that if someone can’t do something, he’s in no place to subjectively judge someone who can. That’s like saying to me that I can’t decide a doctor or a mechanic bad because if I had the ability to determine if they were bad, I’d not need to patron them at all. (Come to think of it, I believe this IS the logic doctors use when they look down their smug little noses at you.) You don’t have to know how to play baseball to point out someone who can hit a homerun and you shouldn’t have to play guitar to listen to an album and have an opinion about it.



But that’s where my second point comes in. This list of guitarists is an opinion, or a collective compromise of opinion from whoever was consulted to compile that list. There’s no objective way to measure a guitarist. If there were, maybe we could get the world’s best guitarist and have him rank everyone else… but then we’d have the logistics problem of determining who was best so that someone would be allowed judge everyone else’s abilities. Nevertheless, I can at least defend the idea that saying something is best is, at best, an opinion.



Some of you guys missed a simple concept in early elementary school. I don’t blame you for it as I think they just don’t teach it correctly. They teach you to recognize fact from opinion. If I say, “the pickup weights 2 tons,” that’s a fact. If I say, “that pickup looks ugly to me,” that’s an opinion. The problem there is that because it’s taught that way, some folk get the notion that the “to me” is somehow required in order to make it an opinion. It’s not. If I say, “that pickup is ugly,” it’s still an opinion. If there is no way to objectively judge something or quantify it, it can be default only be opinion. The weight of the pickup can be proven by objective measurement. If the pickup only weighs one ton, then it was still a fact… it was just a false fact. (Hey, I don’t make this stuff up: “false fact” is a legitimate usage.)



Ok, so then, what is the difference between these two statements?

1. He is the world’s best guitarist.
2. He is my favorite guitarist.



Simply put, the only difference is that A is a more persuasive tone. It is more persuasive because it sounds more objective. But… it’s actually not. It’s not provable so it’s simply an opinion stated more strongly.



If I say, “chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla,” you can argue with me if you want… but then you’d be an idiot. Why? Because it’s just an opinion and arguing about opinion gets you nowhere. No matter how much you may feel a different opinion than the one I have, if it’s just an opinion, I can still hang onto my own.



The great difficulty that people face is that they don’t want other people to have opinions that differ from their own. That makes them especially difficult for me because I tend to have especially contrary opinions and I tend to state them strongly and in a persuasive tone. I don’t make apology for them. I don’t preface them with, “In my opinion…” I don’t say, “The way I see it…” I just say what I think and leave it up to the other person to determine that I haven’t stated a fact.



Some people do catch on to what seems like their own surprise when they finally say something like, “Well, that’s YOUR opinion.” It’s like sixth grade catches up with them overall and just overwhelms them. They want to write “O” beside my statement and get a little checkmark for noticing what was OBVIOUS. Is it really NOT obvious that my ice cream preference is an opinion? I don’t think it takes an advanced education to see it. But what’s worse is that people who say that think that your statement is opinion and theirs is fact.



I actually own the world’s best headphones. No doubt about it. I’ve tried them all. I had to have someone build a custom amplifier for these things they’re just so great. But not everyone agrees with me. Some of the folks who disagree with me are idiots. Some aren’t. Ok, most of them are, but their being idiots is actually a separate point to them having opinions contrary to mine. There’s correlation, sure, but it’s not 100%. Besides, in the end it’s only my opinion that they’re idiots. Now their deafness… that may be more provable. Maybe the next time we have a big ol audiophile dickwaving contest, we should require the participants to pass a hearing test. Even if they can’t hear, though, you just can’t argue with what someone likes. If you like something that I think sucks, you do and in the end the only thing I can accuse you of is poor taste and that, my friend, is something you have a right to.


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this reminds me of my favorite maddox illustration:
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this reminds me of my favorite maddox illustration:
<img src="http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/images/opinion1.gif"</img>

i have the best headphones in the world too. they're neat.

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С уважением ваш друг Николай

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You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.


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