Category: 

What Is the Difference Between Fact and Opinion?

Preferring a cat or a dog is a matter of opinion.
It is a fact that dogs and cats are popular pets.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: J.Gunsch
  • Revised By: Jacquelyn Gilchrist
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
There is a volcano in Indonesia that pours out blue lava.  more...

August 23 ,  1927 :  American anarchists, Vanzetti and Sacco were executed for murder.  more...

Generally speaking, 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. For example, biological differences between males and females are a fact, while a preference for one gender over the other is opinion.

Subjective and Objective

According to most definitions, something is a fact if it matches objective reality. For something to be objective, it must be outside of the mind and not be based on feelings or biases. This is the opposite of an opinion, which is what an individual thinks or feels about a subject.

Although the differences between facts and opinions usually rest on whether they are objective or subjective, a true statement can in some cases be subjective. If a person says he is feeling sad, for example, that is a subjective fact about his emotional state — it is subjective because it is only that person's individual experience. On the other hand, if the first person tells the second person that the second person feels sad, this statement is an opinion or guess, regardless of whether it is true.

Ad

Fact vs. Theory

In scientific reasoning, something can only be called a fact when it can be observed as it occurs or as a state of being, or when it can be proven through experimentation. Experiments must be repeatable, and return the same result no matter who the observer is. Things that were once thought of as facts, however, have been shown to be incorrect. For example, the world was once thought to be flat by many people. This is now known to be incorrect, as objective evidence was introduced showing that it is actually a flattened sphere.

Many things that people think of as science facts are, technically, theories. Gravity, for example, is a fact; the explanation of how gravity works, on the other hand, is a theory — and there are several different theories on how it actually does work. This does not mean that a theory is only speculation. Scientific theories are thoroughly tested and applied to known facts, observations, and hypotheses, and to survive, a theory must explain a wide range of observations that would be otherwise unconnected.

Opinion and Persuasion

Sometimes, statements are used to mislead a person, whether deliberate or not. A person might use opinionated language to persuade others to his point of view; for example, an advertisement might proclaim that one brand is "the best in the world," despite the lack of concrete evidence to support this claim. When considering whether a statement might be true or not, a person should consider the source of the information as well as the evidence supporting it.

Legal Terminology

In the law, a fact is an actual thing or event that took place. During a trial, each side presents evidence to support or disprove their interpretation of the facts of the case. The judge or jury — also called the "trier of fact" or the "fact finder" — then decides what really happened, and whether or not the facts of the case have been proven.

A legal opinion is a explanation by a judge for why a particular ruling was made, or an explanation of why a judge disagrees with a ruling, in the case of a dissenting opinion. This type of opinion includes the facts of a case, its history, and the relevant principles of law to give context to the legal decision. When several judges decide a case together, they may produce concurring and dissenting opinions to explain why they voted with or against a particular ruling.

Philosophy

Determining what is truth and what is belief can be difficult, and the boundaries between them are a subject of philosophical debate. This branch of philosophy is called epistemology, which is the study of the nature of knowledge, as well as the limits of what human beings can know. If it is accepted that there are objective facts — which not all philosophers agree on — then it can be argued that knowledge is an attempt to match beliefs with reality to develop "true beliefs." If there is no truth, there can be no knowledge.

Ad

Discuss this Article

anon945062
Post 41

Just because something is an opinion doesn't mean it can't be proven. An opinion is simply a belief that someone holds. Even the opinion that god or Allah exists is either a fact or not. We have no means of proving it currently, but it's still either true or not true.

If god appeared, well, then we'd know it was fact as well. That doesn't change the fact that it was a person's opinion now that we know it to be true.

The truth, is an opinion is not the opposite of a fact which seems to be what the average person thinks. So when a person says my favorite color is blue, it is his opinion (if he's not lying), but it's also a fact (if he's not lying). If he isn't telling the truth it's neither his opinion or a fact. If I'm arguing with someone else in a room about what object is on the other side, it doesn't change the facts of what's on the other side. My opinions are either true or not true. I can open the door to find out.

anon351914
Post 39

Facts are things that either have occurred, or can be proven to be true. For example, look at that black car. If somebody else can look at that car and agree it is black, or if you go to work and later are asked what you did today so you reply, "I went to work." Facts are facts, no matter what. Water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius (scientific fact). If someone can disprove a fact, then it never was a fact to begin with

Opinions are a personal view, either based on fact or fiction. For example, "grass is green" is an opinion, given grass can be blue or brown, etc., etc., so it is not a fact that grass is green. It can be, but it is not always the case, or as stated earlier, religion is opinion and not fact.

When people said the world was flat, that was not a scientific opinion, due to nobody being able to test out whether it was flat or not (simply stated, people just said that without any sort of basis whatsoever, People imagined it being flat but we today know it's not so what scientific way could lead people to think it was flat?)

Science itself is a fact, like water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius (unless somebody can make water freeze at say 45 degrees Celsius. If so, then I would like to see it!) "Star Trek" is science fiction (never heard of science opinion before so I'm assuming you meant fiction). Due to technology, there are concepts in "Star Trek" that have become facts and there are some that are opinion, and yet some still unknown.

Say you believe in aliens (from space). That is opinion that has a higher likelihood, given the testimony of sightings, abductions and logic (only one planet in one of 200,000 known galaxies has life on it is very, very, very unlikely), but due to lack of physical proof, it would be science fiction until the day we get invaded or evidence is conclusive through scientific theory.

So to say, "This TV program is cool" is an opinion, but to say this show was on at 9 o'clock (and you're not lying to yourself or anyone else), that would be fact.

anon328447
Post 37

Fact is not conclusive. Fact is an opinion in it of itself. How do you determine what is fact or not? What is a fact? And, how do you prove that it is a fact? Who determines what a fact is, anyway?

If we were watching the news together and they were telling us about a mass shooting someplace and you think it's all factual and I think it's hogwash, is your fact my fact? Right there you gave an opinion. "Facts" are black and white, and people who favor "facts" over opinion are trying to get everyone to believe the same thing they do, instead of allowing people to think analytically, study the issue at hand and therefore come up with an opinion. Religion is an opinion, as is science. The people you gave an example of have an agenda, trying to force upon a certain point of view onto other people. Let's not live in a world of "facts" because once again how do you determine what is a fact? Rather let's live in a world of asking questions and studying, instead of letting someone else come up with the "facts" for us.

amypollick
Post 35

@anon294737: Check Isaiah 40:22. "The Lord sits above the round circle of the earth..."

The Hebrew word, in that usage, means globe or sphere. It does not denote a flat circle, like a frisbee, but a spheroid object.

I'm not getting into a true/false Bible argument, just answering your question.

It's also worth noting that the majority of ancient and even medieval scholars, theologians and scientists, with a few notable exceptions, also held that the world was an orb, particularly the Venerable Bede. There are excellent, well-referenced, objective articles on the subject available online. I found several with about two minutes' worth of research.

anon294737
Post 34

In response to post 32: Where in the Bible does it say the Earth is round?

Science forms hypotheses and theories based on observable fact, and as new facts are discovered, those opinions change in order to, as the article puts it, "match beliefs with reality".

anon260138
Post 32

Referring to post 30:

Bible fact back then: The earth is round.

Bible fact now: The earth is round.

Science fact back then: The earth is flat.

Science fact now: The earth is round.

An opinion can change. Science makes opinions and your judgments are based on opinions rather than facts. Science was wrong and God created the earth.

anon248902
Post 30

Example: God created the world in seven days. Blatant opinion based on complete disregard of the fact that science and math, which are the foundations of the reactions in our universe as it exists in our own perception, have proven the earth has been around and was created in a much longer period of time than that. Also, don't give me the crap that he might not have meant human days because the bible wasn't written by god. It was written by people 300 to 400 years after 1CE. People would not understand so called god years and would reference it in terms of their scaling of time.

As far as conservative versus liberal. A fact would be that the two biggest differences in margin of income in America have also come in its weakest economic years: 1928-1932 and 2008 to the present. Whether conservative or liberal ideology will fix this is an opinion because as the last 40 years of politics have shown, either of those forms of government can be twisted into something completely different than what they are.

For instance, today one cannot consider this country to be anywhere near a capitalist, socialist, or communist society. Facts state that the way our economy and political systems work are completely different from all three of those forms.

anon205156
Post 28

i need help to write a paragraph about my favorite tv show, having a fact and an opinion.

anon178448
Post 27

i do not believe that an opinion is a fact. look, it is a fact that my favorite color is black, but, it can change. soon, my favorite color might change to blue. so my favorite color being black might not be at all a fact. it can change. you see?

anon162252
Post 26

I believe an opinion could also be a fact and a fact could also be an opinion.

anon136050
Post 25

It seems that an opinion is subjectively defined by an individual and a fact is objectively defined by the combined majority of individual opinions.

anon131979
Post 24

22: It is a fact because your son could lose his school supplies, they could be stolen, or he could run out. If a sentence contains the word "may," it is a fact. Nothing is impossible. Aliens may abduct you and probe you. It is improbable, highly improbable, but not impossible. May is the key word in the sentence.

anon122319
Post 23

In response to post number 21, when you stated that, "Opinions rely on beliefs, can't be verified, don't pass tests and and just get repeated till they become like facts, but have not substance", you were contradicting the author's original statement. Those who believed the world to be round held an opinion, and yet, it was tested and verified and most definitely holds substance.

anon114442
Post 22

Your conversation amuses me because it is so far above my head. My simple question is this: the sentence "You may need more supplies during the school year." Is it a fact or an opinion? My son, who is in grade 5 thought it was an opinion because of the word "may". He got it wrong on his test. I feel that the sentence is not a fact either. However the teacher said it is a fact. I'll let you decide.

anon111741
Post 21

This is what I experience all day, every day in my workplace. Facts vs. opinion or personal beliefs. I always thought that facts were verifiable and could be tested and then found to be true. Opinions rely on beliefs, can't be verified, don't pass tests and and just get repeated till they become like facts, but have not substance.

anon110337
Post 20

An opinion is a conclusion drawn based on facts, beliefs and preferences, so an opinion can be argued. The ‘fan is blue’ is either a true fact or not, based on how blue is defined.

If it is the reflection of a certain wavelength of light off a material, then it can be tested and proven based on the definition. Only when you have to draw a conclusion based on facts, beliefs and preferences via logic does it become an opinion, and that can be argued. In fact, it is the only one that can be debated.

anon83026
Post 19

Hmm. like that bit about theories. I mean, there should be a third category-theory.

There are solid facts, for example that there is a universe.

There is opinion, like I think the universe is shaped, for example like a pencil.

Then there is theory, that the universe keeps expanding.

Theory is like a fact of opinion: we think it so, and have proven it according to the laws of physics and from what we know so far. However, no human to date has really gone to the edge of the Universe and ascertained whether it's shaped like a ball or a pencil, or whether it keeps expanding or not.

There is no conclusive proof, which makes it an opinion. However we accept it as true, according to what we have-that makes it a fact.

So. What do we have? A theory, isn't it?

anon78404
Post 18

This is nothing but a semantics argument, it is virtually impossible to distinguish fact from opinion, and trying to do so would be like trying to distinguish actuality and reality.

The sky is green, how do I know? Because of qualia. Prove to me that the sky is not green.

amypollick
Post 17

O.K.: The fan on my desk is blue. That's a fact. Anyone can come to my desk and will see my fan is blue. It's a blue fan. No argument. Even if someone is color-blind, that doesn't change the fact that the fan on my desk is blue. Period.

However, if I say that Duracraft, the company that made my fan, makes the best desk fans in the world, that is strictly my opinion. It is subject to debate, change and argument. Someone else may have bought a Duracraft fan that lasted three days when it stopped working. So my feelings about Duracraft comprise only my opinions.

The statement that my Duracraft fan is a blue fan is not open to debate or argument.

That's the difference.

anon76471
Post 16

If someone says that their favorite color is blue or that their favorite ice cream is Rocky Road, then those are facts. If someone says that blue is the best color in the world, then of course that's an opinion. Why would someone need proof about what someone says is their "favorite"? It seems sort of silly to try and disprove what my favorite color is if I'm telling you what it is.

anon74311
Post 15

anon68868, you are wrong, I'm afraid. The real difference is that opinions cannot be disproved.

There is a huge difference between saying:

"I believe that shirt is blue" and

"That shirt is blue".

While you can certainly prove that the shirt is blue, you cannot disprove my opinion about its color.

anon68868
Post 14

Sorry 27988, but most opinions can be proven. Where does it state that an opinion cannot be proven? I'll give you my opinion and you can decide whether or not it can be proven. The color of the ocean water is clear and not colored. Can you let me know if it can or cannot be proven?

anon68545
Post 13

my favourite color is a fact because you're saying what you like. if someone tell that my friend told me that her favourite colour is blue that should be an opinion.

anon67870
Post 12

my favorite color is blue is a fact. If you say everyone's favorite color is blue, that's an opinion. we learned that at school. you can check that for accuracy by seeing what you were or the colors you use the most, so that's a fact.

trela
Post 11

Just because multiple people share the same outcome does not make it a fact. It's just a lot of shared opinions supporting what they believe to be the facts. In the same way some one who believes their opinion to be a fact supported by multiple people facts are used to control society in one form or another. And in most cases are used to support scientist claims.

anon59168
Post 10

In other words:

Fact: A fact is something that is proven to be true.

On the other hand,

Opinion: An opinion is just like a perspective of somebody's thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc., etc.

anon59054
Post 9

"My favorite color is blue" should be considered a fact whereas "blue is the best color in the world" would be an opinion. Although the word "favorite" appears to suggest judgement or opinion, it should be stated as a fact. If the individual has many blue shirts in his closet, drinks from only blue cups, and prefers to color her hair blue, this would justify the individual's favorite color as proven. Hypothetically, the fact that this individual has many blue belongings would suggest the fact that the individual's favorite color is blue.

anon59053
Post 8

God, this article is so wrong. Apparently, the author has never heard of things called theories. Not every statement is either a fact or an opinion. And the part that explained how every fact contains an opinion was just redundant nonsense. I really hope that not a lot of people read this explanation and take it seriously.

anon52356
Post 7

I like ice cream and my favorite color is blue are both subjective facts. It's right there in the article.

anon51716
Post 6

Saying, "My favorite color is blue" or " I like ice-cream" are opinions, because it is maybe true but can you go and look on the Internet and like if your name is Delia, and you say Delia likes ice-cream and Delia says that she does won't appear on the Internet.

anon50341
Post 5

I agree with 30623. If I know my favorite color is blue, why is that an opinion? If I said that I think your favorite color is blue, then that makes sense that it's an opinion. My third grader was marked wrong for stating that, "My favorite ice cream flavor is Rocky Road" is a fact. Kind of seems almost trickery, considering that grown adults on websites argue about it, don't you think?

anon41373
Post 4

I'd have to disagree with conservative vs. liberal. They are both opinions because there are varying pov's on what is a success and what does/does not work. There is no actual end date in sight and nor will there ever be. If there is a factor that ends either type of regime it may have nothing to do with the success of the party or faction that was in charge at the time. So it would be virtually impossible to prove in an empirical sense.

anon30623
Post 3

My favorite color is blue: Wouldn't that be a fact? You know your favorite color is blue so how would that be an opinion?

anon27988
Post 1

Opinion cannot be proven, facts can.

My favorite color is blue; that is an opinion.

Conservative vs. Liberal is not an opinion. One will work, the other won't. If one way of government works, and the other doesn't, then it was a fact and not an opinion.

"That's your opinion," is the probably the most commonly most mis-used phrase of our time...and that's a fact. :)

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email