Facts Versus Opinions

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

In my last post I wrote about the difference between facts and truth. But a topic even more highly frustrating for me is what appears to be a lack of understanding of the differences between facts and opinions.

We seem, these days, to live in a culture where everyone thinks that the words “I’m entitled to my opinion” implies that all opinions are equal and that ignorance is just as good as knowledge.

“I’m entitled to my opinion” is something people will say when they’ve hit a wall in their argument. It is a last ditch effort to justify their point of view by defending their right to hold an opinion no matter how ill-founded, uninformed, and yes, even stupid, it might be. In their minds, they create a false equivalency between fact and opinion.

A fact is something that has actually happened or that is empirically true and can be supported by evidence. An opinion is a belief. It is normally subjective, meaning that it can vary based on a person’s perspective, emotions, or individual understanding of something.

Facts can change over time. What is a fact today may, through more study and new evidence, be updated or revised. Knowledge is growing at an impressively rapid pace, and because knowledge is not finite, scientific facts can be refined as more knowledge is acquired.

As one’s knowledge or understanding grows through learning, opinions may change, may evolve, as well. That’s as it should be.

So yes, you are entitled to your opinion, but you must never, without foundation, equate an opinion with a fact or assume that an opinion is truth. If your opinion about something or someone is well-researched and is based upon conclusive, observable evidence, it may have merit. If not, your opinion is probably just wrong. Express it at the risk of sounding ignorant.

Well, that’s my opinion, anyway.

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2 thoughts on “Facts Versus Opinions”

  1. In the formulation of a fact, during the evidence gathering and observation, how do you account for (or not) the various perceptions of those participating in this process. We all see things differently based on our personal experiences. We can look at a thing and view it from alternate points of view. So how is fact truly determined? And what is your take on facts which are in need of but are not updated or revised? I appreciate this post, btw. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those who follow the scientific method should be able to overcome individual perceptions, personal experiences, and beliefs in order to obtain a truly factual result. That is the crux of the difference between fact and opinion. One is based upon observable and repeatable evidence while the other is based upon personal perspectives and experiences. As to facts in need of updating, that is a process that typically does take place as new knowledge is gained…or at least it should take place. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

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