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.