Facts vs. Opinion

There is so much negative stuff going on around us and because of it, I’ve decided not to comment on recent events. I’ve read and read differing viewpoints and, of course, have my own opinion.
I used to think we just need to sit down and have an intelligent conversation about some of the things but with the death of common sense and our social media frenzy, I no longer think that. It seems the more we talk, the worse things get and believe it or not, they could get much worse.
Everyone has an opinion and each is entitled to that opinion. But when we want to force our opinion on others, or can’t have a healthy debate on both sides, there is a problem. That’s where we are these days.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a healthy debate but notice the operative word here is “healthy”. Almost not possible anymore. Since my days on the debate team, I love to get my point across, but a long time ago, I had to remind myself I am not trying to win a debate. Sometimes I catch myself wanting to press too hard about a subject and say to myself, you’re not still on the debate team. So, I let it go.
Too many people can’t let it go anymore. They just have to keep on and on and on about their opinion, as if doing so will bring the other person around to their way of thinking. Not going to happen.
I once had a reporter, who was a history professor with a political science background, who would come into my office and make a statement and want my opinion. Jerry would always take the opposite opinion. It was challenging, yet healthy. He did it on purpose and I miss the days of the debates we had. It made me think. Neither of us ever got mad, it was just one of those things he enjoyed doing and I rose to the challenge.
Having an opinion does not mean that you are right, or wrong for that matter. It just means you have an opinion.
National media has contributed to our current my opinion is right society. They have blurred the lines between facts and opinion.
Editorial opinions in newspapers are important. It helps spark public debate which is essential to our free society. The page where my column appears, is an editorial page. The header “Viewpoints” should give that away but with those lines blurred, not everyone gets that. This is where opinions belong, not in news stories. Sometimes we might even get so caught up we want to cross that line, but we certainly try hard not to include our opinions in news stories. If someone states an opinion in an open meeting and we report it, that is the person making the statement’s opinion, but it is still a fact since they said it in a public meeting.
The term “alternate fact” has surfaced with the national media and I’m here to tell you there is no such thing. It is either a fact or it’s not. Reporting or writing news stories is about facts, not opinions. Facts can be supported by evidence.
Opinions are beliefs based on the person’s perspective, sometimes based on emotions and the individual’s understanding of the subject. The word “opinion” comes from the Latin word “opinio” which has numerous meanings. These include something imagined, a conjecture, a rumor and expectations. Many of today’s opinions could fall into one of the Latin definitions, that’s for sure!
Society today sometimes quotes opinions as fact because we are losing the power to ascertain the difference.
We let social media tell us what’s going on instead of investigating and reasoning for ourselves.
When tragic events happen, it is even harder to separate the fact from the opinions because of all readily available “opinions” which start floating around the internet. Unless you were involved and on the scene, you just really don’t know for sure anymore.
If you still aren’t sure about the differences, if you believe cats are better than dogs, that is just your opinion and based on your preference. There is no real way to prove it and it is neither right or wrong.
Just because many, many people agree with your opinion, does not make it right or wrong either.
I’d like to share with you some quotes about opinions and/or facts, which I like.
“But facts are facts and flinch not,” – Robert Browning.
“Never allow the thoughts and opinions or rants and raves of another to become the measure of your self worth. Ignore them entirely – you’ll be a better person for it,” – William E. Lewis, Jr.
“I make up my opinions from facts and reasoning, and not to suit any body but myself. If people don’t like my opinions, it makes little difference as I don’t solicit their opinions or votes,” – William T. Sherman.
“People have a right to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight,” George Zimmerman.
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of the facts and evidence,” – John Adams. ©2017

VICTORIA SIMMONS is an author, columnist, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: vsimmons54@gmail.com

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About vsimmons54

Veteran journalist of 40 years. Editor, Motivational Speaker, Ordained Minister, CEO of A Light in the Darkness Ministries, Copy Editor, Copywriting, Event Planner, Lensclusive Photography, Babbling Brook Consulting and Design, event planner and author. I love to write and speak and I love Jesus. I also do copy writing and editing. Recently co-authored Vanished Towns Revisited.
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