“Strong Opinions, Loosely Held”

Elizabeth Hasselbeck doesn’t support the use of the morning after pill because she believes that “life begins at conception.” That’s a wonderful point of view if you ignore the pesky little fact that the only purpose of emergency contraception pills is to prevent conception from occurring. In fact, they have no effect whatsoever on a woman who is already pregnant. Now, no doctor would let you take them for fun but the point of the pill begins and ends well before Hasselbeck’s beliefs are relevant.

The test of her opinion rests at the moment someone informed her that she had misunderstood the medical function of the pill, a fairly common mistake. Did it change? Did she feel relieved or did she respond with “Hmmph, well I still don’t like it.”

Your opinion is either dependent on the facts or it’s not. When they change, you should shift along with them, not wobble and revert like an earthquake proof building. We know that, but try and see. Read something that directly contradicts a long-held opinion on a controversial issue (say gay marriage or tax cuts or some person you idolize), you can see how quickly you try to rationalize and preempt the arguments as though you have a stake in it. The reality is that it shouldn’t matter which side you’re on, so long as it’s the correct side.

I think that “OK, I know but still…” is about the dumbest possible phrase that can come out of your mouth. There’s almost never an excuse for it. It’s rooted in this delusionally coddled belief that you can somehow dissent from the world around you and it will make a difference. Look at the people who live their lives that way: George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Margaret Mead, Marxists, the annoying feminists who totally missed the problem with Hasslebeck’s argument and how that ultimately panned out for the things they all wanted to accomplish. The results do not look good.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.