Last week, people kept asking me what should be done with -- or in some cases to -- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
I'm a minor-league community leader, which is to say that local newspapers and TV stations often ask me for statements about various topics in the news. It doesn't mean that I have any influence.
But these questions didn't come from the news media. They came from almost every person I met.
I didn't sense that the people who were asking had any real interest in my opinion. It appeared that what they wanted was assurance that I agreed with their opinions, which were all over the place.
I tried to avoid answering. There were some opinions with which I tended to agree, and others with which I disagreed. The issue for me, however, was that I had so little information. Everything I thought I knew seemed to be contradicted by the next news report.
In a more general way, I think it would be good for most of us to have fewer opinions, and to draw conclusions much more slowly and carefully. Nothing is accomplished by making proclamations about things we really know very little about. In fact, it's harmful if we find that we've committed ourselves to a position that proves to be wrong, because most of us aren't good at admitting mistakes or even saying that we've changed our minds. Instead, we adopt "confirmation bias": a filter that lets in any information that confirms our opinion and keeps out anything that doesn't.