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Old 07-28-2006, 03:30 PM
Gempress Gempress is offline
Walks into Mordor
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 11,955
Default Fact and opinion *soapbox warning*

I just have to say something about this. It's been on my mind lately. Sorry for the insanely long post, but it's a bit complicated.

I've noticed that many of our debating threads seem to have a few common complaints regarding opinion. Most of the ones I've seen are: "I guess only certain people are allowed opinions"....."aren't people entitled to their own opinions and free speech?"...."I said it was an OPINION, stop taking it personally and bashing it"......"Why do people treat me like this over an opinion?"

There seem to be two common factors that lead to these complaints:
1. Not understanding the difference between fact and opinion
2. Not understanding the freedom of speech and the "sanctity" of opinions.

Let me start with Number 1. Here is the definion of an opinion: "A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof." Basically, an opinion is a viewpoint or idea that cannot be proven or disproven. For example, "Working dogs are much cuter than sporting dogs."

Now, here is the definition of fact: "Knowledge or information based on real occurrences." For example, "Dogs are related to wolves."

Now, here is where it gets confusing. Just saying something is an "opinion" does not make it an opinion. For example, you can't say "In my opinion, pit bulls have locking jaws." That is NOT an opinion, even though you called it an opinion. It is an untrue statement. Why? Because it can (and has been) disproved.

If you post that statement on Chaz, expect to get a lot of people telling you it's wrong. And don't get mad at the posters for "attacking my opinion". After all, what you said is not a matter of opinion. And people aren't trying to be mean or rude by telling you that you're wrong. Most people visit Chaz to find good advice and knowledge about their dogs. We try to be sure they get the most accurate information possible. If something obviously incorrect is posted, you can bet that other members will try to clarify.

*takes a deep breath*

Now for Number 2. Everyone is entitled to have their opinion. All the more power to you. But is a two-way street. If you post a hugely unpopular opinion "I think all dogs over 25 lbs should be banned in cities because it makes things safer," expect to get a lot of negative response. Yes, you have the right to speak your mind....but so does everybody else. Don't complain because people get upset at your opinion, or feel picked-on because nobody else agrees with you: that is our right as free-thinking beings.

Just food for thought.
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