Why? I asked that a lot when I was a child. And I remember my mother's exasperated response: "Why? Why? Why? Do you ever say anything else?" Well, sure I did. But back of everything was always this insatiable desire to know the roots of just about everything. I still ask why a lot.
"You are the only person I know who would erect a billboard and then argue with it about what it says." A close family friend said that to me when I was a teen. You know, I confess there must be a germ of truth there. I spout off lots of opinions and ideas here on my blog. And not a one of them is beyond further inquiry as to why I arrived at that thinking or debate about if it's really the truth.
If you're tempted to think I'm unwavering in opinion just because I sometimes press back hard when my ideas are challenged, you certainly are misreading me. The thing is, again, I love to get at the roots of things. If you disagree with me, fine. But when I press when challenged it is because I know no other way to get to the bottom of things. You see, I doubt you just as I doubt myself. That's true even if you are an "authority."
All of us have areas where we have allowed our emotions into our thought process. Further, I believe that sometimes a lot of our ideas and opinions have there roots in emotional rather than reason-based thinking. Then we just kid ourselves with arguments that justify our biases and then call that logic.
A local political columnist I used to exchange e-mails with once asked me if I didn't, deep down, wish everybody thought the way I did and didn't I think the world would be a better place if they did. He seemed to make it clear to me by the paragraph surrounding his question that he wished everyone did think more or less as he did (he was very much a conservative, politically and religiously, and was a strong believer in absolutes) and that the world would be better for it if it did.
No, I told him. Because opinions are highly personal and emotional things. We call that latter having strong convictions, but that is just another way of saying we really are being highly emotional. A world full of people just like me would intolerable. It would be Hell to me. I certainly don't think I or anyone knows enough about everything to declare exactly how things should be. It's just a preposterous thought.
I close with this. The father of the modern skeptical movement was probably Martin Gardner, a man of vast knowledge and deep thought. And yet, skeptic though he was, he curiously was also a believer in a personal God, complete with belief in immortality. Shockingly, he held these beliefs for purely emotional reasons. He was a self-proclaimed fideist and his faith, he said, brought him emotional comfort.
At least Gardner admitted it. Some of us have trouble admitting that some of our treasured opinions are emotionally based. I'm that's true with authorities, too.