Only a Matter of Opinion?

Oh, really, you say, your going to tell us what reality is????  Seems to me, that's just a matter of opinion.

 

We've all heard this said, probably more than once, probably even said it ourselves: "It's just a matter of opinion."  Could be true.  Or not.  But so what? 

 

The problem is when facts are presented to us, but others claim they are NOT facts but just an opinion, in which case we can choose not to believe them and instead believe something else.  People can and do use this to obscure reality, lead us to think what we've been told is only an opinion, and worse than that, that we are free to hold any opinion we wish, because it will be just as valid as the "opinion" we've been told NOT to believe.

 

We think that in our pursuit of reality, we need to know what the matter of opinion is all about and how it can be misused, just as we need to know what biases are and how to deal with them.

 

Of course, we're not actually going to tell you what reality is.  Our intent here (on this page and throughout this website) is to discuss actual facts and share ways to analyze them in the effort to see reality.

 

What's a fact?

 

We need to start with this.

 

 noun
1. something that actually exists; reality; truth:
Your fears have no basis in fact.
2. something known to exist or to have happened:
Space travel is now a fact.
3.a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true

 

In other words, a fact is not an opinion.  When we say that when released from our hand a rock will drop to the ground, we are stating a fact, not an opinion.  We pick up a rock, we hold it.  We release it.  It falls to the ground.  That's a fact.  We don't just believe that will happen.

A matter of opinion definition:
noun: opinion; plural noun: opinions

1. a belief, view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge, sometimes rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

In other words, an opinion is more subjective than objective.  It may be directed at factual knowledge, but it is NOT the factual knowledge itself.

It's all a matter of opinion.

We know people who hold this opinion about opinions.  They hold that everything humans say, or perceive is subjective, so it all is a matter of opinion.  Yes, it's similar to saying that reality is just in the eye of the beholder, but it doesn't say reality isn't out there.  It just says that whatever we say reality is is just an opinion on our part.

It may surprise you to know that we don't entirely disagree.  Why not?  Because if EVERYTHING we see and say is just opinion, it doesn't make any difference to call it that.  You see, for something to matter, it has to be differentiated.  In other words, we define things by inclusion and exclusion, we say what something is and what it is not.  If everything is opinion, there is nothing we can say that is not opinion, and the concept becomes useless.  Unless, that is, we look at...

The basis of our opinions

If you look above at the definition of opinion, the key elements of this concept are certainty and the degree of factual support.  What this means is that, even if everything is a matter of opinion, there is an opportunity to differentiate: We can talk about the degree of certainty based on factual evidence.  So some opinions are more uncertain and speculative, while others are more certain and based on fact.

In conclusion:

So, just as we understand that biases can underpin everything,  we acknowledge the presence and pervasiveness of opinion, even as it applies to what we say here.  But this can't and doesn't stop us.  Why, because we maintain that there is factual information that we can see, no matter how imperfectly, and that we should not give up on gathering the facts and trying to make sense of them.  In other words, some opinions are better than others.

BUT, having said that, it is our opinion that there are times on this website when we can and should offer speculative material, when it helps to share an opinion about a topic.  SO when we have crossed the line into belief and uncertainty, we will flag it.  And if you find something you think we missed, please let us know your opinion <grin> about our opinion!  Thanks.

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