How to disagree?
Unbelievable as this may sound people are capable of looking at the same facts and coming to different conclusions. Of course facts are becoming harder and harder to find, especially ones we actually all agree on and trust. People quite rightly don't like being told, that I am right and you should just trust me as I have your best interest at heart, and even more so when it is an institution telling them so, I celebrate the fact that people are now more open to questioning the sources of information that are available to them, but it does leave a gap where false news that reinforces our current opinion can become more persuasive than decades of scientific research that comes from a position where the assumption is that we know nothing into it is proven.
It does not help that in any area of science there will always be at least a single paper that justifies a counter position to what is the consensus opinion within the scientific community. That doesn't mean that paper is wrong, it may just point to unusual circumstances or represents the oddities of statistics, it is expected that small populations will always divert from the mean of larger populations. That means a small island in Japan will certainly have different average age to the world population, it might be lower or higher but it will always be different, that is what you expect with statistics.
The Internet has every opinion it is possible to have, and it is not feasible as an individual to assess how accurate the facts they loudly proclaim actually are, let alone whether the opinion you are listening to represents the consensus view or just one angry and self-righteous individual. And then there are just people who want the love or self confirmation that their opinions and actions are superior to others, one of the dangers of the cult of personality or morally superior crusades is that they will twist facts and engage in self knowing propaganda with the justification that the lie that results in good action is justifiable. A warning sign that someone is looking to convert you is when they start using labels, and they label actions as evil or cruel, it is one of the ten distortions in thinking that doesn't just lead to depression but also warps reality. Labels nullify the person, you put them and all their ideas in a box with a danger label on it which gives yourself permission to ignore them.
How do we find reliable facts in such a world is becoming a major issue for democracy, how we conduct public debate, our own engagement in the world and how do we frame the Buddhist questions of how to act with a right mind so that we can choose the right actions. I certainly don't have a good answer for that yet, I currently look for sources of information where there is a single reliable, accountable person who are looking at the science of a particular area and who seems capable of asking questions and having their minds changed. I love nothing more than someone who can admit they are wrong, who are capable of emphasising the strengths of the argument against their own opinion and who can empathise with different mindsets than their own.
Everyone has different life situations, we do not start from the same blank page whenever we start considering the right actions for ourselves. We all have a unique set of experiences of the world, we all have different upbringings, a different mix of people in our lives and that can affect how we see facts, and that is if we are lucky enough to agree upon a common set of facts. It is so hard to accept when someone we care about, and we fear might suffer because of their different interpretation of the world, disagrees with us. That is when you have to find your way back to the place of love that allows someone to pursue what for them is their right action.
You certainly can't order people towards that place of love, it would be wonderful if our public debates could come from that place of love however that would require people to love themselves first, be secure in the fact that just because someone disagrees with you it does not mean they are judging you and to do that as you are discussing what you disagree about. Meditation is certainly a useful tool for being aware what you're doing when you are doing, but I do not think we can institute a minimum threshold of 1000 hours of meditation before you can have a public opinion. However we can certainly promote the ideas of non-violent communication and the use of clean language between people who do not know each other well enough to love each other.
Though, perhaps the greatest source of information and thought for me, are the people that I love, who's thoughts I value the most, especially when they challenge what I think, what actions I feel are right for myself and how those actions when they are played out in other people's lives affect their own happiness, life situation and level of suffering. I try to choose my words carefully, not out of any worry that they are going to love me less because of my thoughts or actions, but because I know my words have the same impact that their words have upon me, I want our conversations to come from a place of love, not from any selfish needs and most of all I want to serve them, and enrich their lives as much as they want to do the same.