I suppose one of the reasons for being well informed on everything is so that one can have an opinion on everything…No one is more opinionated than an intellectual. I am an intellectual. (Finish the syllogism on your own.) One of the delights of being an intellectual is that one is expected to have opinions on everything while incurring responsibility for nothing. But for the formation of these opinions at least a smattering of information is required.
Alas, on an increasingly wide range of subjects, I find I am perfectly pleased to be without any opinion at all. On so many political questions, social scandals, academic disputes, I find my antipathies nicely riven down the center, which makes forming an opinion favoring one side or the other a bit difficult. Besides, opinion generally — and my own in particular — has come to seem less and less interesting to me. A human being, after all, is not an op-ed page; the least impressive of thoughts are formulated in the personal equivalent of editorials.
— Joseph Epstein, “An Extremely Well Informed SOB,” Narcissus Leaves the Pool
Once our basic needs are met, most of our social energy is devoted to cultivating, protecting and enhancing our status. For a certain educated, socially conscious type, opinions are the currencies that buy distinction, even (or especially) if they have no practical value. Without an impressive portfolio of au courant opinions, you might as well just be another mindless beast being led around by the nose. You never know; one day, a powerful figure might suddenly vacate hizzorher position, and you might be called upon to step up from your life as an understudy and cast a deciding vote, give an epoch-defining speech, or sign off on a momentous plan of action. Boy, wouldn’t you feel foolish then if all you had done up to that point was quietly tend your garden!