The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines fact as “a thing that is known to be true, especially when it can be proved”. It then defines opinion as “.. your feelings or thoughts about somebody or something..” It is then safe to say that anything that can’t be proved in whatever way remains an opinion. When we say that a certain person is beautiful, for example, it is our opinion since the person’s beauty cannot be proved with scientific fact. However, when say that a year has 12 months, it is a fact since it has been proved before.
The biggest difference between a fact and an opinion is that a fact is not open for discussion while opinions are different depending on the person. For instance, there are those who believe that God exists and those who don’t. However, a peculiar case of overlap between the two occurs here. Those who believe in God claim that it’s a fact since it’s documented in the Bible. Those who don’t believe in the idea of God argue that there is no evidence whatsoever to show that God exists. The two arguments are right as they have “facts” to back them up, only that it depends on who you ask.
Our opinion on various things depend on several factors such as our personal tastes and preferences and human bias. Thus, a person can vote for a certain politician just because they are from the same race, that is bias on the basis of race. On the other hand, your rival can make a vert good proposal, but because of the (bad) history between you, you may chose to ignore or just dismiss it. That is prejudice. The two examples show that we don’t always rely on facts when coming up with an opinion. Sometimes we come up with “facts” to back us up, however, the facts may either be made up or are from an unreliable source.
So, when there are those who believe that Obama is the best President ever, there are those who are convinced that he is the worst ever. Both sides have “Facts” to prove their arguments. Such is the close relationship between fact and opinion. Many times, the difference in opinions has been a catalyst for wars. Wars like the Cold War occurred due to a difference in ideals and beliefs. While no Cold war is likely to break out anytime soon, we need to learn to respect others’ opinions and beliefs. We should not, for instance, make fun of Christians for celebrating Christmas on 25th December every year on the basis that no historical data exists to prove that Jesus was born on that day. We may have the freedom of speech and expression, but we don’t have any right whatsoever to trample on others’ freedom of religion. This diversity ain opinion and beliefs is what makes the world exciting.
In recent times, some facts have been proven wrong through research and experimentation. Pluto is no longer regarded as a planet and Mount Everest is not the tallest Mountain in the World. This is proof that the world we are living in keeps evolving. New facts pop up every year and the difference in opinions gets bigger and bigger. Thus, nothing can be regarded as the absolute truth anymore as it may be proven false a few years later. We therefore have to understand that every one has a right to an opinion , we just have to learn to give them the space to express it, no matter how nonsensical it may seem to be.