Is your opinion wrong?
The other night, my suitemate made the claim that the movie “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” directed by Stephen Norrington, is better than Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.” Now, since I have seen both of these films and am a rational person with fully functioning senses of sight and hearing, I immediately disagreed. As far as I could tell then (and as far as I can tell now), his position is literally indefensible. When I told him this, he replied that it was simply a matter of taste.
Trying to end a discussion with “It’s just my opinion,” apart from being about as poor a debate technique as is possible, is probably the biggest cop-out that can be committed. This is a major pet peeve of mine. If you can’t support your opinion with anything other than the fact that it is your opinion, then it is most likely an uninformed or even outright wrong opinion. At the very least, it is not thought out at all and is therefore not worth having. But I digress.
If it truly is just a matter of taste, and if taste were immeasurable, then there would be no possible argument either way. Since no one ever says “It’s just my opinion” outside an argument, this is not the case. Therefore, there must be some way to approximate and quantify a measure of taste.
First, a definition of “better” must be established. It is not unreasonable to define “better” on a societal level, and this will make the distinction easier. The only way to objectively determine what is “best” is to allow society to make the judgment. Also, we will assume that people use money as a means to assign a value to something, and the more money they spend on a certain good or service, the “better” that good or service is. And since, as we all well know, time is money, time shall also be an indicator of quality.
Therefore, when comparing the quality of two things whose qualitative differences seem to stem simply from differences in tastes across people, the amount of money that society spends on each thing can be a measure of absolute quality. Granted, it is not entirely accurate. This is biased toward those with excess money to spend, and it really reflects society’s beliefs about the quality of the thing, rather than the thing’s inherent quality (although it can be argued—and I would argue—that there is no difference between the two).
In order to hedge our measure, we will include reviews (both consumer and professional) of whatever we are comparing. It takes time to go out and rate something, and even more to write a review. The more time that is spent, the more people care about what they are talking about and the more their opinions should be taken into account. Again, there are some biases, but I sincerely believe this is the best system we can have.
It passes the common sense test: “Inglourious Basterds” is better than “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” even without DVD sales.