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"Conventional wisdom" and the importance of dissenting opinions

limster | Apr 12, 200802:43 PM

I'm citing this post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50856...

Carty says:
"Those of us who read ChowBos obsessively develop a notion of the board’s conventional wisdom, and that conventional wisdom reinforces itself. This is a *wonderful* resource but a bit of an echo chamber at times.

I’ve had some mediocre experiences at Neptune Oyster e.g. and this board makes be feel like I should be on medication."

"Conventional wisdom" can be self-reinforcing on many boards, and it is not a good thing.

It is crucial for hounds to (1) provide their frank opinions, especially if it runs counter to the tide and (2) be accepting of all opinions, and especially encourage posts that disagree with oneself. (Of course, posting in a friendly manner helps to get your message across.) The alternative is a sterile board dominated by groupthink, where certain opinions, by some twist of fate, get perpetuated as fact. And you get stuck with eating at the same places over and over again. That's chowhound hell (or chowhound purgatory).

It's obvious that this is bad because the diversity of opinions is reduced. I cringe everytime I read someone say "I know I'm going to flamed for this but...(insert opinion here)" -- that shouldn't be necessary. We should be able to just state our opinions and not have to go through some long debate to defend it. That's important because if hounds are afraid to speak up it deprives everyone of a source of opinion.

Also, we can't afford to be smug about the few delicious places we've been to; they may not always stay delicious; and even if they do there's always a need to find even better ones! It's counterintuitive, but trying out places that are not recommended (preferably never even mentioned) is just as if not more important than going to places that have an established record.

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