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A woman loudly expressing her opinion.

In a world where social media has given everyone a public platform to share their hot takes and opinions, a Substack piece by David Pinsof is a breath of fresh air. He believes that opinions are B.S. The article isn’t just a critique of the current state of opinion-sharing but a deep dive into the psychological and sociological reasons behind it.

David Pinsof is an evolutionary social scientist at UCLA, co-creator of Cards Against Humanity and author of “Everything is Bullsh*t” on Substack.

You can read the entire piece on Substack, but here’s his basic theory:

Pinsof says opinions are different than preferences (“I like Taylor Swift’) or facts (Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii). “They’re preferences, combined with a set of positive judgments about the type of people who hold those preferences (e.g., they’re smart and cool) and/or a set of negative judgments about the people who lack those preferences (e.g., they’re dumb and cringe),” Pinsof writes.

He suggests that everyone who shares an opinion is unwittingly part of the “opinion game,” which is “an attempt to make the people who share our preferences look superior to the people who don’t, while concealing the fact that we’re trying to do that.”

Attempting to win the opinion game is “identical to wanting status—it’s an attempt to get other people to think we’re better than them (i.e., we have superior preferences).” Now, this poses a problem because we don’t want people to know we’re trying to elevate ourselves, or else we will look “smug and douchey and worse than them.”

So, the game is carried out in secret.

For example, if I say The Beatles are the “best band of all time,” that’s an opinion and it implies that if you disagree with me, “you’re missing something,” or you’re “not smart or deep or sophisticated enough.” He believes that opinions have covert insults built into them: “If you don’t share my preference, there must be something wrong with you.”

Upworthy spoke with Pinsof about his piece and he said it’s impossible to exit the opinion game.

“Attempting to opt out of the game is just another move in the game,” he told Upworthy. “To renounce your desire for status (and your desire to cover it up with high-minded values) is to renounce your humanity. It would be like opting out of the desire to eat or breathe.”

If opinions are all about status, does that make “know-it-alls” desperate status-chasers?

“‘Know-it-alls’ are desperate to elevate themselves socially, but so are the people who accuse the ‘know-it-alls’ of being ‘know-it-alls.’ The competition for status—for virtue, esteem, approval, and admiration—is a part of human nature, and it’s behind almost everything we do,” Pinsof told Upworthy. “No one can escape it, and if you think you’re the exception—that you don’t care what others think—then, well, you want other people to think that, don’t you?”

Pinsof started thinking deeply about opinions when he realized he wasn’t entirely sure what they were.

“No scholar really had a good theory of what these strange things were. I’m a psychologist studying political opinions, so I realized that I was in a good position to develop such a theory,” he told Upworthy. “I didn’t set out to prove that opinions were bulls**t; I just wanted to understand what the heck they were. After coming up with a good theory (or so I’d like to think), I realized that opinions were bulls**t, like pretty much everything else.”

There is no real way out of the opinion game. Either we’re the person trying to elevate ourselves by having strong opinions or trying to one-up them by having none. But, in the end, maybe we shouldn’t get too hung up on the opinion game in the first place because, as Pinsoff points out, it’s all B.S. anyway.