Fact Vs Opinion

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Hip Hop Skeptic, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. Hip Hop Skeptic Registered Member

    I am very driven on facts, but I am making this thread drunk so please excuse me if it isn't all good.

    But whats the difference between fact and opinion?

    Aren't facts just opinions too?

    Like take something stupid like, the sun warms the earth. Everyone knows it is true, but one of the main concepts of science is that we do not know everything an we are constantly learning. Things get proven as well as disproven all the time.

    So we may one day discover that the sun does not warm the earth, instead it is some other crazy factor or whatever.

    Maybe the real question is what is a fact and what is "just a theory"?

    Are there such things as facts?

    ( I believe in facts and base much of my life on them I like science

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  3. John J. Bannan Registered Senior Member

    Your opinion that you are drunk may not be a fact. Did you take a breathalyzer test? What did you score?
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  5. Hip Hop Skeptic Registered Member

    Wouldn't you agree that a Breathalyzer only gives an approximation of BAC (blood alcohol content)?

    And that one persons BAC could be the same as another's yet one is far more impaired, drunk than the other?

    So a breathalyzer would not be accurate in telling how drunk I am.
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  7. phonetic stroking my banjo Registered Senior Member

    If only it was that easy.

    I'm afraid we'll need to get 100 different women of varying quality and stand them in a line. Where you stop when asked to walk to the least desirable woman you'd sleep with will be your level of drunkenness out of 100.
  8. shorty_37 Go! Canada Go! Registered Senior Member

  9. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

    But desirability is subjective also, neh?
  10. Steve100 O͓͍̯̬̯̙͈̟̥̳̩͒̆̿ͬ̑̀̓̿͋ͬ ̙̳ͅ ̫̪̳͔O Valued Senior Member

    I'd say a fact is a globally accepted opinion at any certain time.
  11. USS Athens Very Special Senior Member Valued Senior Member

    I agree.
  12. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    So "facts" can change from day to day, week to week? Surely you don't mean that.

    Facts are simple statements of real, actual happenings or events. Opinions are mostly "reasons" why those events occured. I.e., it's a fact that in the 1940's there was a war going on in Europe and Asia. There is no disputing that "fact". Why there was a war is open to opinion and slanted truths and propaganda ...depending on the point of view.

    Facts can be disputed by anyone ...regardless of point of view.

    Baron Max
  13. EmptyForceOfChi Banned Banned

    facts are facts, opinions are opinions. ofcourse what we know as factual scientific data can change in accordance to new findings, but as baron stated in the above post there are millions of undisputed facts that are 100% not opinions.

    for example the human race exists and so do trees, that is obviously a fact and not an opinion. this thread was started and is also a fact, etc etc.

    you are drunk, that is also a fact which nobody will dispute due to the question.

  14. snake river rufus Registered Senior Member

    A fact is testable and those tests are repeatable. If the results of those test are the same time after time, no matter who performs the test, you have a fact.
    An opinion seldom has empirical evidence and may change over time. A strongly held opinion may not change no matter what new evidence is produced.
    There is no such a thing as "just a theory". A theory is a reasoned out explaination for a given set of facts.
  15. snake river rufus Registered Senior Member

    Yes you have been drinking.
    A breathalyzer gives repeatable results. If you blow into one ten times or ten one time each the results will be the same.
    How much a persons BAC affects a person is not tested by a breathalyzer. Field sobriety tests are what is used for that. Two different testing methods for two different results.
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Scientists avoid (or at least should avoid) the term fact because it implies that they know how the universe behaves. All they have are observations of how it has behaved in the past, and theories derived logically from those observations that predict how it will behave in the future. The only true facts scientists have are statements about what has been observed in the past, historical facts.

    Nonetheless the citizens demand facts: truths that can be applied to the present and the future. So what scientists do (and this is just my own description in my own words) is to fall back on the definition of "truth" in the American-style legal system: "true beyond a reasonable doubt."

    We say it's a fact that the earth's gravity at its surface pulls on an object with a force equal to its mass times 32 ft/sec^2. (Furriners please excuse me, this is America and we love England sooooo much that we still doggedly use their charming old units even though they caved into that dadgum subversive commie-pinko Frenchy metrickle system.) We say this because we agree that it's "true beyond a reasonable doubt" that all objects dropped near the Earth's surface during the remainder of recorded history will fall at that speed.

    Our understanding of the universe could be wrong. Maybe the gravitational constant isn't a constant. Maybe there are a couple of giant hamsters running on a giant treadmill in the center of the earth and when they get tired and slow down six million years from now, the force of gravity will change. Maybe Earth is just a shiny ball on some giant's Christmas tree. Maybe the religionists were right all along and there's a race of supernatural beings beyond our powers of observation and this whole universe is just a snow globe to them.

    Yeah right.

    But seriously, we can't say for sure that we know the Earth doesn't work in one of those silly ways. Those doubts are not reasonable, but that is not the same thing as saying they're impossible.

    Just like in a murder trial: Maybe a guy who looks just like you and (even smells just like you so your dog thought he was you) happened to walk into your house the night your wife has doing the hoochie-koo with your cousin Louie, and it was that guy who shot them, not you. Yeah, okay, that is a doubt but it is not a reasonable doubt so we just found you guilty of murder.

    Is it a fact that you murdered your wife and Louie? The newspapers will treat it as a fact, based on the lack of reasonable doubt, as asserted by the jury of twelve reasonable people.

    Is it a fact that the acceleration of Earth's gravity is 32 ft/sec^2? The science books (and the newspapers too) will treat it as a fact, based on the lack of reasonable doubt, as asserted by a community of hundreds of thousands of reasonable scientists with a continuity of several centuries.

    The canon of science is built upon facts of this nature. There are so many of them, that statistically, every now and then one of them is actually found to be false. Each one individually is true beyond a reasonable doubt, but in aggregate, over the ages, one of those unreasonable doubts occasionally slaps us in the face. But the essence of reasonableness is that these falsifications happen so rarely that they don't upset the scientific canon. One of those little building blocks crumbles but the structure still stands.

    The discovery of relativity means we now have uranium-powered electric generators, but it hasn't really upset anybody's daily life. Well except for those people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  17. EmptyForceOfChi Banned Banned


    not only historicle facts are indisputable, others exist also like the fact that you are a human being, also that you are looking at a computer monitor and typing words into an online forum. facts about the future exist also, like the fact that i have to go to work tommorow or i wont get paid. not all facts are abstracts either, mobile phones emmit radiation, humans require oxygen.

  18. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    So if according to a breathalyzer test I am below the legal limit I am not drunk, despite my own sense that it would be dangerous to drive and the wobbly way I am walking?

    How very odd.
  19. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

    ... And those of us who live close enough to nuclear plants and nuclear waste dumps.
  20. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Interesting, Fraggle, but to me, what you're describing in your lengthy post is opinion, not fact.

    For example, a scientist should say, "Based on our extensive research and scientific observations, it is our OPINION that......."

    And the courts should make it clear by saying, "Based on the evidence given in this court, it is the jury's OPINION that......"

    See? What you've noted is opinions ...even if educated opinions, or opinions without reasonable doubt. But you've said virtually nothing about facts.

    There are facts, and there are opinons. And those things are different things!

    Baron Max
  21. Godless Objectivist Mind Registered Senior Member

    That's not entirely true some people thought the world was flat, in fact many did, also many thought that the sun rotates around the earth, these where globally accepted opinions. But certainly they were not facts!
  22. K.FLINT Devil's advocate :D Registered Senior Member

    Fact or Fiction

    I'd say a fact is something that can be attempted by anyone at anytime and the same end will occur, that would be science fact though. Knowledge fact? as stated here facts change ideas change our knowledge base widens and those ideas are altered, call it a growing knowledge. For me, the question then changes to the nature of reality. What is real, what is truth or fact do they all change from point of view? or is there a specific set of truths? In my thinking if there are set truths or even realities the human species at present is not capable of perceiving them.
  23. heliocentric Registered Senior Member

    Yeah this is where language get ambiguous. You could definitely say a 'fact' in science is just an educated opinion, specifically one that hasnt been falsified yet.
    But as long as scientifists recognise that their 'facts' are not absolute (which most seem to), it doesnt really matter whether you call them facts or opinions.
    It only matters that you understand that limits of what you can know, and that you can never be absolutely certain of anything.
    In this respect you could argue that its only within artifical systems of formal logic and mathematics that you can have absolute facts. e.g - you can subtract 2 away from 8 all night and all day, it will always be 6.

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