My husband, John Scalzi, qualifies as an expert. He is a television meteorologist with a graduate degree in meteorology, specializing in cloud microphysics, has earned his CBM, (Certified Broadcast Meterologist) from the American Meteorological Society and testifies in court cases as a meteorological consultant. In other words, he knows things.
But here's what may be one of the coolest things about him. He still continually emerses himself, just as any scientist would, in new research. He's constantly reading, studying and learning the latest information on anything having to do with the weather. And EVEN with all that up to date data, he doesn't jump to final conclusions about things quickly. So when he was asked this morning, after a he did a presentation to a local community group, whether or not he "believed" in global warming, he DID give his opinion. An opinion he 1) first identified as his opinion that he 2) supported with data from the very large majority of well-respected scientists around the globe. He was non-emotional and extremely factual.
When John finished his answer, the elderly gentleman who asked the question said, "Well, I've read a lot about it and I think it's a hoax. It's just something all those environmentalists want you to believe."
John (who could have been a communication expert or a GREAT motivational speaker) responded with, "I understand your skeptism. It's a very complex issue. I encourage you – whenever you read or hear someone's opinion, check their resources. Keep looking for the science behind the opinions."
And that got me to thinking. How many times do I give my opinion about something like this when it's based in NOTHING but a feeling I have. How many times have I said someone SHOULD have done "x" – when I have absolutely no idea if "x" is practical, logical, pheasible or would have the outcome I think it would. Sometimes things are WAY more complex than they appear.
Can I have an opinion? Of course. And – if it is my opinion, then I need to state it as such. If that opinion is based on fact, I'm thinking I'd better be prepared to back it up with those facts.
Oh, and by the way. "I read it somewhere," doesn't really qualify.