Friday, February 20, 2009

Facts, Opinions, and Damnable Lies

When did our collective lose the ability to determine the distinctions between a fact,
an opinion, and an out and out lie?

Forcefulness and conviction are no substitute for knowledge and honor. Yet before the ink dries on a congressional bill, on a newspaper column, or on a print ad, we are bombarded with 'facts' about the value of the paper.

A few notes to myself. Self, when you don't know, don't state your support or disagreement as a fact. Self, facts are inalienable. The Holocaust happened. That's a fact. The North won the Civil war. That's a fact. The Canadian/Western European health care system is worse than the American system. That's an opinion. Obama wants to transform the United States economy into a socialist system. That's a lie.

My point is, a supposition, no matter how strongly stated or how convicted the speaker is in the belief does not make for factual evidence. Wanting something to be true doesn't make it true. I would like to be 35 years old, with a 32" waist, a square chin, with a small cleft in it. In my mind, that may well be a fact. Sadly, your eyes will bear witness to the falsehood.

It's incredibly important to have an opinion, a point of view, a perspective. It's even more important to base that perspective in facts. I don't know why I'm on this rant. Maybe its one too many Rush Limbaugh moments. Or too many postings about the lack of importance of keeping the best football player on the Titans on the team.

Call it a nagging observation. The truth will set you free. The opinion will set you free from friendships.

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