businessman, man, afraid

I have a right to my opinion.

Ok. You have a perfect right to your opinion. I have a perfect right to mine. RIGHT!

And my opinion is equal to yours. They have the same value. WRONG!

stop, enough, it is enough

The problem comes when we have formed opinions based on different facts. Or even on the same facts that have been presented to us with different spin.

For example:

I read an article that says dogs eat people. I am convinced it is true.

You read an article that says dogs save people. You are convinced it is true.

I am worried about you because you have a dog. Your dog is going to eat you. You should get rid of it.

angry, animal, canine

You are worried because I don’t have a dog. You think my chances of survival are small.

I tell you that if I were a good friend to you I would kill your dog.

You tell me I will be dead soon anyway because I don’t have a dog and that I am disturbed mentally. You stop talking to me.

golden retriever, retriever, dog

Who is right? Who is wrong?

The facts would probably tell us that some dogs have killed some people, and that some dogs have saved some people, but that most dogs do neither. That would help us to reach some sort of informed opinion, instead of an deep-seated emotional conviction that each of us is in possession of the absolute truth.

At the moment, we cannot talk to each other about the disagreement. You have hurt my feelings, and for Pete’s sake, you know I want to kill your dog!!

There is a very simple solution. One we should have done before it even got this far. It isn’t really about opinions. It is about the basis of the opinions. We should have FACT-CHECKED the articles we read. BEFORE adopting them blindly with such conviction. At the very least, as soon as it became obvious that you believe dogs save us all and I believe dogs kill us all. How can we counter that with a sniff and ‘I have just as much right as you to an opinion!’

We shouldn’t. We mustn’t. We need to find out the true facts.

  • According to WikiLists, Typically, between 30 and 50 people in the US die from dog bites each year, and the number of deaths from dog attacks appear to be increasing. Around 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, resulting in the hospitalization of 6,000 to 13,000 people each year in the United States (2005).
  • As for dogs saving lives, the statistics are simply not there. However, we could start with the 1740 military working dogs that exist, according to Politfacts. If we assume that each dog saves on the average 6 people during their working lives that would give us a figure of over 10,000. If the working life of a military dog is say 5 years, that gives us 2,000 a year worldwide. Then we would have to add the civilian dogs who save lives, which is unrecorded, but certainly non-zero.
  • To sum up, from such information I could certainly believe that dogs save between 30 and 50 American lives per year, and also cause between 30 and 50 American lives to be lost. The rest do not, and while evidence appears to show that many Americans are physically harmed by dogs each year, it is also true that many Americans are nurtured mentally by dogs every year.

truth, lie, street sign

These facts are clearly not absolute. But they are a little better than we had before. What is your opinion now? Is my life in danger? What is my opinion? Will you be killed by your dog?

I think we would both slightly modify our opinions. Maybe you are safe, I would grudgingly say … for the time being. Maybe even if you had a dog, it wouldn’t be one of the ones who save lives, you might admit.

Both of our opinions have been modified. And now we have a basis for discussion. Now we can really start exchanging views and having a meaningful discussion about it. Before we couldn’t.

We were entitled to our opinions before, and we are entitled to our opinions now.

The question is …

Do they have the same value? Are these new opinions of ours equal to the old ones? Or are they worth more or are they worth less?


by the way,

this was never about dogs!! (No animals were harmed in this article)

checkmark, tick, check