We live in an age of babble. We recognize words but they are so frequently used in a manner inconsistent with their meaning, that we might as well be speaking different languages. The word “opinion” is used often but it is rarely used to convey the meaning it had a few decades ago.
Frequently, a presentation of facts is dismissed as opinion. “That's just your opinion.” Not always. Some statements transcend opinion. Lassie is a dog. Not an opinion. Lassie is a good or noble or smart or loving dog. Opinions.
Some people are unable to make the distinction between fact and opinion. Theirs is a world of like and dislike, of agree and disagree. Like if you agree.
Theirs is largely a subjective world. Yes, they know if they jump off a tall building, they will die. They know that if they drive too fast at certain places at certain times, they will be caught. However, the bulk of their mental processes is the selection of aesthetic preferences. Ginger or Mary Ann? Betty or Wilma? It is all a matter of taste.
Facts and opinion are equated but so too, are taste and opinion. There is the saying, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.” Not necessarily true. Everyone has a perspective. Everyone has a viewpoint. Everyone has a preference. But opinion?
Opinion involves at least a cursory examination of facts and at least a minimum of mental toil. Reflex, impulse and preference do not necessarily rise to a level of opinion. Opinion is not just choice, it is conscious choice. If the option is Coke or Pepsi, taste is all that matters. Ideally, opinion is paramount in the selection of political and religious leaders. But back at Jonestown...
Taste = Opinion
Opinion = Fact
Ergo, Taste = Fact
America has selected a religious leader in much the same way an infant selects an object to put in his mouth. That shiny quarter was just so pretty.
We sometimes hear the term “informed opinion.” That might not be a flagrant redundancy but truth is, opinion requires information. Without information, we have only our taste to guide us. Without, information, we have Barack Obama. Without information, we have Jonestown.