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The Difference Between an Opinion and a Fact

Updated on March 11, 2013

Often today, when we get into debates everyday in our lives, people often respond to "That's your opinion" or "You're entitled to your opinion". You don't hear a lot of people saying "That's a fact" these days. It is true. People have different opinions. Tons of it. Fortunately, here in America, people can still have free speech and state their opinions without getting reprimanded or being arrested for it. But lately some have been slowly changing where there are certain statements that you're not allowed to say in public for fear of offending someone else. Some opponents have argued that limiting speech can slowly lead to freedom of speech being removed. But back to the topic, opinions and facts do have differences. How can I prove it. Well let's see the word "opinion". In Google's interpretation, it says:1) a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge and 2) The beliefs or views of a large number or majority of people about a particular thing. Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines opinion as: a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter. So on the first definition, an opinion is a view that is not necessarily based on facts. Now we go on the word "fact" and check the definition of it. In Google's definition,a fact is: 1) a thing that is indisputably the case and 2) information used as evidence or as part of a report or news article. In Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, a fact is: the quality of being actual and something that has actual existence. So basically a fact is something that has evidence to prove it.

Politics has always been dirty. Politics has divided people. Whenever we get into a discussion about politics, it always end up in a big argument. People on both sides want to present their case with what they learned from their own sources. Most of the time when it comes to politics, we don't 100 percent know what the politicians are thinking, what their intentions are and what goes on behind closed doors. The only thing we can rely on are news articles and the news media (i.e, television). When we gather all our research to discuss a particular political issue, we try our best to present our case in a positive manner. When the opposing side presents their case that counters the arguments, then we get defensive and figure out a way to get back at our opponents and vice versa. What ends up is people suddenly forming an opinion just to get rolling on the discussion and forgetting the facts they acquired Pretty much, politics does not have a 100 percent guarantee of a full evidence of results achieved.

Another example are the laws that govern us. Take for example the free market system. One side will argue that the free market is the best system to achieve economic success and the other side will argue that the free market does not achieve economic success. The first one will explain by looking at the past and see how much people have achieved economic success. When that person sees many results from the past, he comes to the conclusion that the free market system works best. The second person that opposes it will look in the past also and if he doesn't find results, then that person will most likely continue to believe with what he thinks about the free market with no details to prove it and to continue arguing with it. So the first person has the facts and the other does not. Thus comes the difference between facts and opinions.

Now comes the problem. When people start losing the battle in an argument, there are many today that want to say "that is your opinion" or "you're entitled to your own opinion" when the opposing force presents actual evidence that prove their arguments. When that attitude comes up, it seems that people that are losing are afraid to admit that they are wrong. It's like me saying to a person that two plus two is four and the other says "no that's just your opinion". My point of giving that example is because in the end, there is a right and there is a wrong. If something is proven with evidence, then it is a fact. If there is no actual evidence, then it is an opinion that has yet to be proven to turn it into a fact.


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    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 4 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Christian, I think you've hit on a very important subject. My observation is that one reason our public policy debates are so contentious is that many people seem to treat their own opinions as fact, while discounting verifiable facts as just someone's opinion. Thanks for highlighting this.