Sunday, February 20, 2022

Value Those Who Know Fact From Opinion

    We all disagree on many things, even with our closest friends and loved ones. Preferences in restaurants, football teams, and styles of music are likely to invoke wide ranges of comments from those around us.

The more meaning we assign an issue - the more we value it - the less tolerant we tend to become of those who have different values. A friendly rivalry about a ballgame is one thing, falling on different sides of Roe v. Wade is another. 

Some of us lean towards treading softly into such issues. We've all heard the saying about not talking religion and politics at social gatherings, but what about social media? And what about groups where emotionally charged subject matter is the very focus of discussion?

Fact or Opinion

    A challenge that typically arises is accurately differentiating between fact and opinion. We would be wise to recognize those who consistently show an ability to know the difference between what the facts are and what the facts indicate. The former should be universally recognized, while the latter may be matters of opinion and subject to debate.

It is a fact I write this blog. Its value is subject to debate.

Likewise, it is a fact people report UFOs. What that fact indicates becomes a matter of debate, often interpreted through a variety of filters. 

Fork in the Road

    Recognizing someone's ability to appropriately differentiate between fact and opinion offers us opportunities to widen our horizons. It is at this fork in the road, separating those more skilled at it from those less skilled, we may be surprised to find valuable common ground where we might otherwise disagree. The key factor in this context is not the opinion one takes on any given issue, but their ability to recognize it as a personal preference and empathize with those in disagreement.

In practice, this means we might find worthy discussion among a group of socially diverse people; the antithesis of an echo chamber. The most important factor is not socioeconomic class, level of education, religious affiliation, or similar category, but their willingness to identify where facts end and beliefs begin. 

This allows opportunities to exchange support and participate in shared learning. Our differences can be celebrated, encouraged, and valued, rather than hidden and unmentioned out of fear of inciting anger and wrath. 

We should choose the people in our inner circles wisely. Empower those to express disagreement who have earned the right to your valuable time and attention. Demonstrate to them it is emotionally safe to challenge your position, and cultivate reciprocation. Doing so supports original thinking and individuality. There just have to be guidelines for it to be functional, and those guidelines involve accurately differentiating between fact and opinion. 


Recommended reading:

UFO Research Integrity


  1. Mornin’ Jack,

    As always, relevant, important points, not often talked about and very well-written.

    You ended your piece by writing, “There just have to be guidelines … those guidelines involve accurately differentiating between fact and opinion.”

    Here lies the crux of the problem in my view: there are many people who simply don’t know and or ignore methodologies in discerning truth or facts from lies and fiction. The latter often times, is attributed to respective belief systems; the most extreme example would be a cult; however, we see it running rampant with politics, religion (as you touched on) and of course Ufology (arguably, all of these are often cult-like). In these instances, when facts threaten a belief system, the validity of the former becomes suspect, or simply unfeasible, and when facts don’t matter debate is futile. For the ignorant, there is education.

    So what are the guidelines? In my view they are:

    —Scientific method

    —Jurisprudence in regards to evidence and establishing facts.

    —Journalistic ethics and standards.

    If any group or inner circle, is conformant to these tenets going in, then the opportunities you cite can ensue.


    1. Thanks for weighing in, Frank. I appreciate your comments and interest.