Skatje writes about forming her own opinions individually:
In these last few years as I come of age and become aware of the social and political issues of my generation, I’ve found that I have a lot of choices to make and opinions to form. These opinions are mine alone. Though others may share them, they’re still my own because I came to believe them due to personal experience and the conclusions I myself have drawn. I believe in forming my own opinions and not letting others sweep me away into theirs.
There haven’t been many epic events where my conviction has played a key role in shaping my life; there are mostly smaller battles every day. Daily, I’m bombarded with opinions—Bush is a moron, homosexuality is wrong, religion weakens the government, Mexicans are stinky and lazy. I hear these things constantly, and I have to tune them out and not let them influence me.
What has Bush done for our country? Have I ever had a problem with a Mexican? Before I form my view, I think about the facts and my personal experience. I can’t take a side in an argument right away, I have to research into it and consider the values and morals I already have before I can be confidant that I’m correct.
I wish more people realized how powerful and how crucial this mode of thought is. How can I find facts? What are the facts? What facts would falsify my view? All of these are questions all people with functioning neocortexes must ask themselves.
By the same token, there’s nothing wrong with judging things in light of one’s own values, as long as it doesn’t blind one to reality. Some degree of obstinacy is good; if every single dissonant fact causes me to change my mind, I’ll generally miss big pictures because of normal random variations. This, incidentally, is how political talking points work: they assemble random data that isn’t particularly important and pass it off as the entire body of relevant facts.
Of course, people tend to condescend to everyone younger than themselves, so one commenter duly praised Skatje’s high school education. PZ intervened and praised Skatje’s Freshman English class, which she started three weeks ago. The only thing I can say to that is, I wish my Freshman Composition class had gotten me to write like that. Even when I wrote a similar post on UTI a little less than a year ago, I took a lot more words to say the same thing as Skatje, even 3 years after having taken Freshman Composition.