SCI-ART LAB

Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Q: Can you explain the distinctions between a fact and an opinion in the fields of philosophy, religion, science, etc.?

Krishna:

Right, yes.

There is this universe. Our universe. It came into existence based on scientific principles. The very fact that the universe is working wonderfully without collapsing or falling into nothingness is because of these scientific principles that run this universe.

We study this universe using a ‘scientific method’ to learn those mysteries. When our scientific studies, observations and conclusions tally with the universal scientific principles, they get established as evidence based facts.

Fact is a thing that is “proved” to be true. I put proved in inverted commas because in most scientific studies there is no actual proof, only evidence.

The key difference lies in the level of certainty or conclusiveness they provide.

Proof establishes certainty and definitively confirms a claim without room for doubt. Evidence supports a claim but may not necessarily lead to a conclusive or indisputable conclusion.

Because of human mind inadequacies, we cannot prove anything with certainty.

To prove anything beyond doubt, your study conclusions ‘must exactly tally’ with universal scientific principles without any room for error. This is not possible in most of the cases because you have these human mind limitations.

We try to avoid human frailties, biases, mind distortions, fallacies using scientific method.

But human mind limitations? How do you avoid that? Our minds haven’t evolved to become superhuman yet to erase all errors and think and work in an excellent manner.

A scientific fact is the result of a repeatable careful observation or measurement by experimentation or other means, also called empirical evidence. But still in most cases it is a temporary one. When new data and evidence arrives, the earlier ones get erased and the new ones get established - even these are provisional too in most cases.

Science is a work in progress, you try to improve more and more and get closer to facts more and more.

Only science can establish facts with regard to our universe.

There is a scientific method to establish these facts that imposes checks and balances. It is a purification process. Your peers correct you at each step if you go wrong.

Scientific principles are universal in nature given that the conditions in which they work are similar.

Facts are grounded in reality and are independent of a person's beliefs or feelings. They are supported by empirical evidence and can be verified through observation, experimentation, or highly reliable sources. They can be replicated in investigations or experiments.

Opinion is a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact, evidence or knowledge. It is a personal belief, feeling, or judgment that someone holds. Opinions are subjective and are not yet proven to be true or false. They are dependent on personal viewpoints and can vary greatly among individuals.

Your conditioning based on religion, culture, tradition, ideology, emotions, biases, almost all human frailties can influence your opinion.

There is no specific method to control its quality. So opinions are a result of poor quality thought processes most of the time.

A fact cannot become an opinion. A fact is an objective reality, while an opinion is a subjective view or belief.

Understanding the difference between fact and opinion is fundamental to critical thinking. When navigating the information age, being able to discern objective truths from subjective viewpoints is not just beneficial, but essential.

Philosophy and religion are opinion based where as science is dependent on evidence based facts.

If I say Taj Mahal is in Agra, I can take you to Agra and show it to you as evidence as it is a fact.

If I say a human heart has four chambers, I can open up a corpse and show the four chambers of the heart as evidence to you as it is a fact.

If you say the rose is the most beautiful flower in the world, that is your opinion and you cannot prove it and I can say another flower is more beautiful than a rose and I cannot provide evidence either.

If you say God exists, that is your opinion. If an atheist says God doesn’t exist as no one has seen him till now, it is an opinion too. Because you cannot prove that God does or doesn’t exist. They are just feelings. Some are based on blind beliefs and some on lack of evidence, and one can be ‘‘more accurate” on a human intelligence measurement and good thinking scale but still you cannot provide evidence for both and therefore cannot be established facts.

Religions are man made. They originated in ancient human minds and denote earlier and primitive thinking. Nice stories woven with creativity and imagination.

Religion: God created Earth in six or seven days. Genealogical records combined with the Genesis 1 account of creation are used to estimate an age for the Earth and universe of about 6000 years, with a bit of uncertainty on the completeness of the genealogical records, allowing for a few thousand years more (2).

Opinion, belief.

Science: The age of Earth is estimated to be 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years.

This dating is based on evidence from radiometric age-dating of meteorite material and is consistent with the radiometric ages of the oldest-known terrestrial material and Lunar samples (1).

So it is evidence based and therefore, is a fact.

The age of the universe based on the best fit to Planck 2018 data alone is 13.787±0.020 billion years. This number represents an accurate "direct" measurement of the age of the universe (3).

Which one would you trust?

It is up to you.

But your reply tells me which category you belong to.

Footnotes:

  1. Age of Earth - Wikipedia
  2. https://www.letu.edu/academics/arts-and-sciences/files/age-of-earth...
  3. Age of the universe - Wikipedia

No. Fact Opinion
1. Verifiable and objective Unverifiable and subjective
2. Universal and doesn't vary from person to person Can vary greatly among individuals
3. Based on evidence Based on beliefs or feelings
4. Remains true irrespective of belief Can change based on belief or new information
5. Quantifiable and measurable Not quantifiable or measurable
6. Deals with reality and actual existence Deals with personal interpretations and judgments
7. Not influenced by personal emotions or biases Often influenced by personal emotions or biases
8. Can be proven true or false Cannot be definitively proven true or false
9. Can be replicated in investigations or experiments Cannot be replicated as they are personal
10. Can be accepted universally Acceptance varies from person to person

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