"That's just your opinion"


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By Raphael Henry

As this academic year draws to a close, and my tenure as a Comment Editor with it, I have been reflecting on why I think the esteemed Comment section of Nouse is so essential (a shocking position for a Comment Editor...). My reflections began after watching a particularly heated debate end with the seemingly innocuous phrase “well that’s just your opinion”. Seeing this argument peter out, with both sides throwing each other particularly hard glances, cemented for me that any hope of reaching common ground in their debate had been completely lost the moment that phrase was uttered.

Perhaps I am indulging in a tendency for melodramatic absolutes, but for me, you use this phrase if you want to completely invalidate your opponent’s position. You are signalling to the other person that they could never persuade you no matter what they say, because you will discount their arguments as being ‘just’ their opinion. Within this is the further implication that their argument is completely detached from facts: you are telling them that you are being objective, whilst they are being subjective.

An opinion is simply a certain way of interpreting various facts, in a way that fits with one’s own experiences and beliefs. People that use this phrase forget that even when we try to be objective, we often cannot help but listen to our opinions: in fact, some psychologists have theorised that people will only come up with logical reasons for a decision after they have already intuitively decided what to do. They will then often say – and believe – that these logical reasons were why they made their decision.

I’m not saying that we should all forget about objective facts and logical reasoning, but I am saying that we live in a time where it is too easy to discredit someone’s viewpoint as being ‘just their opinion’, without recognising that they are simply interpreting the same facts in a different but equally valid way. The role of the Comment section is to mediate this process, allowing people to engage with opinions of all shapes and sizes.

In this edition, you will find coverage of a broad range of issues, with Omar Omar expressing his disappointment concerning the ineffectiveness of the United Nations and its various subsidiaries, Grace Bannister discussing the dangers of Chat GPT, and Ethan Attwood ruminating on Just Stop Oil’s style of climate action. Alongside these sweeping pieces, we also express our views on more localised issues, with Bailey McIntosh discussing whether time is up for the monarchy, Alexandre Hornstein giving a hopeful take on recent reforms in Minnesota, and my own comparatively gloomy view of British politics. Interspersed between these political articles, Hannah Boyle criticises the media coverage of Taylor Swift’s love life, and Sonny Garside charts the fall of former This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield. To round out the section, we have a clash of comments on the ongoing marking boycott, with Sam Riley defending this escalation in industrial action, and an anonymous writer arguing that the UCU has gone too far – make sure to check out the intriguing poll results!

This will be the final print edition for this Comment team, and I am incredibly proud of our work. I cannot express enough what a joy it has been to work alongside Sonny Garside, Ethan Reuter, and Juliette Barlow, as well as *Nouse’*s Editor and Deputy Editor, Gracie Daw and Hannah Boyle, who have managed to steer us away from causing any legal disputes (Sonny’s Phillip Schofield article notwithstanding).

I hope you enjoy the articles on these pages, but if you didn’t, well… that’s just your opinion.