Reply To: Afraid to speak out!


If you’re dealing with a fairly large group of people with opposing views, it can be hard to speak up and state your own opinion. Psychology terms a similar (or perhaps the same) phenomena “groupthink,” where groups tend to come to a certain conclusion while avoiding alternative viewpoints simply to pursue conformity and minimize conflict. For all you know, you’re not the only one with your viewpoint. Maybe there are 1 or 2 other people in your class with beliefs influenced by Austrian economics and/or libertarianism.

Usually in situations like these, stating your opinion for the first time is the hardest. Speaking up will get much easier after that.

What I’d recommend, is if you can’t find a specific point where you feel comfortable giving your opinion as a statement, is to ask it in the form of a question.

For example, your teacher or classmate says “The gun murder rate in the US is so much higher than in our country. Gun control is obviously the sensible solution.”

You could reply:
1) “Did you know that the UK used to have very lax gun laws and yet its crime rate was very low? From that it seems apparent that crime and murder rates don’t always move inversely with the amount of gun control. Do you think the high crime rate or murder rate in the US could be a consequence of something else, such as the drug war?”
2) “I read online that the crime rate and the murder rate in the US are down 50% since 20 years ago. I know we don’t normally hear facts like this, but the # of guns (or guns/capita) increased over that time (I think? Don’t use this statistic if it’s wrong haha, but giving it as an example anyway). Why do you think that is? If this trend continues, won’t the US’s murder rate become extremely low without gun control?

Sometimes questions like these are even better than outright stating your opinion because it makes your classmates think. Occasionally when two sides have opposing viewpoints, each side can get very hostile, stop listening to each other, and start trying to win the argument rather than discussing what will actually make the world a better place. You don’t want to fall in this trap, especially when you’re alone vs. maybe 20 others. Try to have a proper discussion with your classmates and don’t get heated up. You said you’re confident you can back up your opinion, but if for some reason you can’t, never be afraid to say “I don’t know” or “I probably need to look into that.” The only people don’t want to say things like that is if they’re too intent on winning the argument rather than having a discussion geared toward finding the truth. (I know this only because I have been one of those people that just want to win the argument haha) And of course, if they ask you what your opinion is, be ready to state it. This isn’t a way to completely avoid stating your opinion, it’s a way to ease into it when you’re uncomfortable doing it outright.

So if this appeals to you, you don’t have to use my questions of course, make your own or choose whatever you’re comfortable with.