How Powerful is Opinion?

For my site visit number two, I visited a Jehovah’s Witness church and attended a Sunday morning congregation meeting. In my site visit paper, the five concepts I drew on from the textbook were: proselytizing, sectarian stance, individual meaning system (conforms to group’s meaning system), dualistic worldviews, and the Bible as legitimation. After writing the paper, I realized that the terms and ideas I used to describe them created a generally negative picture of a group of people that I actually rather liked. I draw on Zimbauer’s  “Religion and Spirituality: Unfuzzying the Fuzzy” when the author discusses the need to interpret sociological data objectively. He claims that “contrasting the terms as good-bad or superior-inferior confounds the definition and measurement of these concepts with their outcomes” (Zimbauer 563). I then question whether or not it is possible to interpret data without any discrimination. Regarding concepts such as the ones used to describe JW, I find them to be negative off the bat. Then, I realize my opinion comes from a background that strongly values liberalism, inclusivity, and “spirituality” rather than “religion”. However, someone with a background that is just the opposite might interpret spiritual accounts as wishy-washy, and conservative religious accounts as legitimate or more likely to be factual. Is it impossible to discriminate data without imposing some opinion? As humans, we discriminate stimuli given our previous experiences, which in turn shapes our framework for interpreting new data. Thus, to what degree can we truly throw our opinions and past experiences out the window to analyze data?