Ultimately what distinguishes one person holding an opinion from another is what they know about the subject and what that knowledge is based on, that is, facts or just opinions. Their accuracy and effectiveness in the past, together with their level of expertise, is what built their credibility. Their credibility is what enables you to judge how much you can trust them to be knowledgeable on the subject in question.
When you are faced with multiple opinions you must evaluate the credibility of your sources. Once you know how credible each is you can ascertain whose opinion is the most reliable and you will know whom to trust.
How can you determine credibility?
There are several factors you must take into account to determine how credible a source may be:
- Your previous experience with that source: Have you dealt with them before? Do you have any reason to doubt them?
- The source’s potential bias: Does the source have any vested interest in expressing one opinion over another?
- The source’s level of expertise: What are the source’s credentials? What makes them qualified to express an opinion on the subject?
Let’s go through an example of an analysis we can make when we are presented with an argument so we can ascertain its validity. Take a look at the old Coca-Cola™ ad below: