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Comparing and Contrasting Opinions


Main Questions

Because people believe their opinions so strongly, these beliefs sometimes seem more like facts or the truth. We can see more of the details and beliefs when we compare one opinion to another. Sometimes we see interesting similarities or differences that we wouldn't have noticed without comparing the things side-by-side.

Putting the Strategy into Action

  1. The first step is to list or cluster all the viewpoints, opinions, perspectives, etc. on the given topic (things like theories, interpretations, hypotheses, solutions, editorials, campaigns, etc.) Take about ten minutes to brainstorm as many opinions and issues as you can recall from your research.

  2. Now group or "chunk" out what you've listed or clustered into two main viewpoints. There may be more than two main / popular viewpoints, but we'll ask you to focus down to two. These should be key ideas involved in the topic, not little things that you notice are similar or different. You might find that the opinions are mostly similar or very different, either one is fine.

  3. Decide whether the viewpoints are mostly similar or different. Do these two main opinions mostly agree or strongly disagree with each other? One way to think about it is to ask this question: "If people holding these two opinions were gathered in a room together, would they get along or get in a fight?"

    Use the graphics below to help you decide whether your two viewpoints are more similar or different.
    similar Venn
    different Venn

  4. Label the two main opinions, perspectives or viewpoints with short phrases (like "believe in Big Bang" and "believe God created the universe," "believe dinosaurs became extinct after meteor strike" and "believe dinosaurs died from disease," "poetry must rhyme" and "the best poetry doesn't rhyme," or "jobs are more important than the environment" and "nature must be conserved," etc.).

  5. Review your first cluster or list, and sort the beliefs, values, opinions, facts, etc. by the two main viewpoints you've just written. Not all the things you listed will fit under these two viewpoints, so don't force it.

  6. Put your ideas to work. When you can find 2 - 3 main points of agreement or disagreement between the two main opinions, then fill in this form to assemble your ideas. Notice that this is not an easy process and you will probably feel confused at times. This is a natural part of thinking new thoughts. Feel free to ask your teacher or peers for feedback on your ideas.

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