The Unfair Fight: Truth v Opinion

Truth and opinion are constantly battling each other for acceptance and the battle is often fought within the context of a zero-sum game. Former New York Senator Moynihan once quipped that we can all have our own opinions, but we can’t all have our own facts. The problem is most humans confuse the one for the other. In fact it is that phenomenon that is the source of much of human misery. Voltaire, the French philosopher once stated, “Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes” (Brainy Quote).

Truth moves in tandem with fact, but opinion is the one that often masquerades as either. Truth and fact can be elusive, even evasive. Thus, the valid is often difficult to identify or acknowledge and so when presented with an issue, one must sort out, collate and present as is – in all its naked glory – what is fact or truth and what is opinion. Humans often find this task to be daunting and demanding.

As a matter of course, humans prefer opinion over fact or truth because opinion often does not tax the mind but rather sedates it. Fact and truth are exacting taskmasters whereas opinion often requires mindless compliance, which is the course of least resistance. Once opinion is introduced into the equation, the answers are often the same: Wrong! This is starkly evident in science, religion, politics and all the other realms of the human experience. Opinion has the advantage over truth because humans, as a matter of course, have demonstrated a proclivity for choosing the shiny rock rather than the diamond in the rough.

Truth and fact are worthy of relentless pursuit, and sometimes they may even take on a fugitive-like stature, but opinion should be slaughtered at every turn – except where it is openly acknowledged that opinion and not fact or truth is at play. When the man called Jesus spoke of truth to Pontius Pilate, Pilate quipped, “What is truth?” He was never given an answer. The philosopher, Diogenes is said to have walked the streets in broad daylight while holding a lantern. When asked why, he is reported to have said he was searching for an honest man. May we all do likewise – searching for facts or truth, and along the way, give no more power to opinion than what it deserves so as to ensure that the fight between the two is fair.

Published in: on December 1, 2015 at 4:17 AM  Leave a Comment  
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