BY FRANK RUSSO (@ComedyRusso)
“Opinions are dead and the era of beliefs is upon us.”
That is the theme to this year’s philosophy and society conference in Toronto, Canada, where many great minds came to debate the perceived merging of opinion and belief.
“It’s a subtle, yet significant change,” explains Johnny Deepthought, philosophy professor from Laurentian University. “An opinion used to be an idea you agreed with, but weren’t committed to. Now everyone has beliefs and the misconception that beliefs are protected from scrutiny, even though most of their ‘beliefs’ are opinions. Everyone knows someone who doesn’t ‘believe’ in cell phones. What they mean is they don’t think they’re necessary, an opinion. If you truly didn’t believe in cell phones, you’re implying you think I’m some kind of wizard every time I call you.”
Many guest speakers from across Canada and abroad joined the week-long conference to give their interpretations of this disturbing trend.
“When I was a kid, Burt and Ernie were two puppet roommates trying to teach me basic math,” claims UBC philosophy grad Jenny Questions, “Then someone ‘believed’ they were gay so Burt had to go. Were they? Who knows. Could they have been? Maybe. Is a show involving a man in a giant bird costume with puppet friends teaching kids to read and write the appropriate place to apply your homophobic perception as belief? No.”
[pullquote]“Beliefs are showing up places they don’t belong,”[/pullquote]
One of the main focuses of the conference was the blurring lines between opinion and belief bleeding into the professional world.
“Beliefs are showing up places they don’t belong,” explains University of Calgary Political Science professor Greg Wonder. “There are a handful of doctors in Alberta who won’t prescribe birth control for women because it’s ‘against their beliefs.’ This is absurd. My mechanic doesn’t ask what god I pray to before fixing my car, he just fixes it because that’s his job. You have to question the ethics of a person who won’t prescribe the pill to a woman, but will take a hot knife to my nut wires like they’re crocheting a scarf for the exact same purpose and not ask a single question. Socialized medicine has no interest in your personal opinions, it’s for everyone.”
As the conference moved into the latter stages, it closed with the focus shifting to beliefs in politics.
“Politics is the ultimate opinions only arena, and even that’s being affected,” claims MIT professor Mike Pessimist. “Politics is compromise, and the more you hear belief, the less compromise there is. How does your beliefs about guns or abortion have anything to do with infrastructure spending or national healthcare? It’s theocracy without the religion. Once you commit to ideas that cannot be changed, there can be no change.”