I was having a discussion about our infamous president the other day with an acquaintance of mine. He was telling me that “it’s a fact” that Donald Trump had accomplished more in his first year as president than any president before him. I countered his “fact” with actual facts, to which he replied, “Well, I’m entitled to my opinion.”
We seem, these days, to live in a culture where everyone thinks that the phrase “I’m entitled to my opinion” implies that all opinions are equal and that ignorance is just as good as knowledge.
It’s often something people will say as 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 your knowledge or understanding grows through learning, your opinions on that subject may change, may evolve, as well. That’s as it should be.
So yes, while you are entitled to your opinion, you must never, without foundation, equate an opinion with a fact or assume that an opinion is truth.
Well, that’s my opinion, anyway.
And don’t get me started on “alternative facts.”
Written for today’s one-word prompt, “fact.”