Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Viewpoints on evaluation

The following, you understand, is merely my opinion. It is evaluation.

It has occurred to me that if you don't know enough about some subject, you can't truly evaluate. Sure, you can have an opinion, but what is the value of it? It's kind of like answering a multiple-choice test by answering A, B, C, or D randomly.

So why do many people have such hard-core opinions about things that they really know nothing about? I take as an example, opinions I have encountered about my religion, Scientology. I have encountered some people who are quite certain that they know all about it and it is something that they don't want to know anything more about, and this without ever having read a book, attended a lecture, or talked to a Scientologist. It's a puzzle. Almost as if they were saying "Get thee behind me, Satan!"

We call this a fixed opinion. It's based on false data. They haven't examined the subject themselves, but they are certain that they know about it. Why? Some source that they trust, whether a person, or book, or newspaper, has given them a position, or an opinion. They don't think about it anymore themselves. They have an opinion.

Now this is an interesting idea. Someone or something has evaluated for them, has sort of told them what to think.

It seems to me that you could say that evaluating for someone is sort of "placing" or "postioning" them, either physically or in terms of their opinion. (For example: "School is not fun," "Work is dull", "The US is good and has good intentions," "Someone knows what they are doing so it's all taken care of.")

You get evaluated for a lot as children. Your parents say "Go upstairs and do your homework now(physical positioning)." Your teachers say, "Study history. It's important to know the generals and battles of the Civil War (opinion positioning)." The child asks why. If he doesn't get answers, or can't work out his own reasons, he either accepts (and is a good child) or doesn't (and hangs out with the wrong crowd.)

I come to a fundamental conclusion: if I don't have enough knowledge in an area to have an opinion or idea of my own, I am easily evaluated for. In the case of the examples above, I happened to LIKE school. I liked learning. But oh, when asked as a child, could I parrot "don't like school." I knew from my contemporaries that that was the correct opinion. I had to learn to examine things for myself and come to my own conclusions.

I am still grappling with the subject of government and civic affairs. It seems to be an area where it's difficult to know the truth. For instance, one assumes that someone (the Government) has it all in hand. The City officials run the city. The County officials, etc. (I even admire that somehow we have all these roads that are maintained.) So this remains an area where I need more data. And it's not apparent that the newspapers and the talking heads are capable of providing a balanced view. After all, they may often present facts, but they get to choose which facts.

There's a booklet in Scientology called The Way to Happiness which has a chapter on Competence. I've distributed it for years to my art students because it seems to clearly and simply state a way to attain competence. It states: "The ingredients of competence include observation, study and practice." If you want a copy of the booklet for yourself, contact me. Give me your address or email address and I'll send you a copy.