In Public Opinion, it is argued that people develop irrational opinions, which lead them to act in the way they do without drawing logical conclusions on the existing evidence. The author shows that the people’s actions such as the political discourses and wars that were fought by the Germans, Frenchmen, and Englishmen who lived on an island in the ocean in 1914 were based on opinions. It is evident from the statement that the description of the world, picture developed in the mind, and adjustments to the environment depend on personal opinions and not logical evidence.
“Looking back, we can see how indirectly we know the environment in which nevertheless we live” (Lippmann, 1946, 5). The statement is a reflection of the past life showing that most people did not really understand the environment in which they lived.
I am made to doubt the truth of the statement because people live through different situations that were borne out of different environments circumstances. The factors, such as the great slaughter that occurred among the people in the island during the war caused people to react differently to different circumstances. The opinions expressed in the book were written by people who experienced the horrors of war and not the pictures conjured up in their minds. The book was written as a result of the people’s reactions and observations towards the unfolding circumstances such as the announcement of the end of the long war. It is critical to note that the Europeans, Germans, and Frenchmen who lived on the island in the ocean traded, fought wars, and reformed the world not because of the opinions they held towards the people they lived with but because they knew that they needed to overcome obstacles that were impeding the development of the area.
“In the same way we can best understand the furies of war and politics by remembering that almost the whole of each party believes absolutely in its picture of the opposition, that it takes as fact, not what is, but what it is supposed to be the fact” (Lippmann, 1946, 9). This is a categorical emphasis of the position held by the author that people’s opinions were not based on logical conclusions and circumstantial evidence, but they were based on the pictures and opinions held in their minds, which were the drivers of wars and other happenings in society.
The statement makes me contend the fact that ills, which happen in society such as wars are caused by people who have distorted opinions about the environment. The modicum of truth is not in the fiction of a person, but in the logical thoughts and conclusions a person makes that are based on circumstantial evidence.
“The only feeling that anyone can have about an event he does not experience is the feeling aroused by his mental image of that event” (Lippmann, 1946, 15). People develop feelings when events are narrated to them and such feelings only occur because the narration stimulates the mind to conjure up a picture of the event.
I agree that people systematically develop pictures of events when they are narrated to them in their minds which influence their feelings, attitudes, and opinions. People’s reactions are based on the detailed explanations of events, which depend on how vivid the explanations are put across.
Lippmann, Walter. Public opinion. Transaction Publishers, 1946.