“Climate change is a hoax by the Chinese.”
That, unfortunately, is not an opinion. It is a fact. It is a FALSE FACT.
Facts are statements that can be proven or disproven. There are studies by government agencies and university science departments all over the world that provide evidence to back up the theory that the climate is drastically changing in ways that threaten our existence. The studies are repeatable, peer reviewed, and thoroughly “vetted”, to use the new word that Republicans embrace so deeply and lovingly for immigration issues. On the other side of the question, you have scoffing congressmen who bring snowballs into the capitol and say, “See? The science is not proven.” That is not a fact. Where is the evidence which is not anecdotal and based on a misunderstanding of the difference between “climate change” and “weather change”? That is by definition an opinion. And it is not even an informed opinion. Opinions are not equal to facts. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to onions. No, that is not even correct. You can eat both of those things. It is more like comparing apples to planetary moons.
After a long and heated Facebook debate about immigration between me, a Texas teacher, and an Iowa Republican Trump supporter I went to high school with who doesn’t even know if he ever met an illegal immigrant, I have pretty well proven to myself that a big share of the divide between liberals and conservatives stems from the unwillingness of one side to avoid equating facts and opinions. Apples and moons.
So give me a moment to do what teachers do.
Here is a non-political lesson in Fact versus Opinion.
Who do you prefer? Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny? The answer doesn’t matter to me.
I can give you a quick and dirty lesson on fact and opinion using these two cartoon characters. And it doesn’t even matter who you like more.
Here are some obvious facts about the two of them.
They are both cartoon characters. They are both anthropomorphic animals. They both wear gloves most of the time. They both have a thumb and three fingers on each hand.
These things are observably true. You can prove them by looking at the illustrations I have already provided.
Other things may not be as readily apparent, but no less provable.
Both of them are heterosexual and both of them have one main love interest. Neither of them have ever been married, but neither of them really are playboys and even though there are no legitimate bits of evidence that either one has ever had sex with their respective girlfriends, Bugs has kissed Lola on more than one occasion and Mickey has kept company with Minnie for longer than most old married couples.
These things are provable by watching the cartoons and observing a preponderance of evidence. There is no contradictory evidence. But the possibility of contradictory evidence doesn’t change these things into opinions. A disproven fact is still a fact. It is merely a false fact. Over time the relationship between Bugs and Daffy Duck may become clearer and the fact that Bugs is gay may pop out of the cartoon closet. It does however, require proof, so it is a fact, not an opinion.
Here’s another fact you know the evidence supports. Bugs Bunny is a nudist. He almost always appears in cartoons naked. Mickey, however, believes in wearing clothes. Even when he gets out of the bath tub, he clutches the nearest towel, and you never get a look at whether he has cartoon genitals or not. Mickey does hang out a lot with a duck who wears no pants, but that’s an irrelevant fact.
The notion that Mickey and Bugs are very different personalities because they had very different creators, is an opinion. It is a opinion offered by people who have studied the characters and their creators, and therefore can give you an informed opinion. But it still can’t be proven.
Walt Disney made Mickey into more or less of an every-man sort of character whom audiences can identify with. Things happen to Mickey Mouse, and the comedy comes from him trying to deal with those external forces, be they wind storms during music concerts, Donald Duck’s raging temper, or the evil plots of Black Pete. Walt never said this was so to prove it, but it is not unreasonable to think it.
Bugs Bunny, on the other hand, was created by several great animators like Robert McKimson, Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, and Bob Clampett. And Bugs tends to make things happen to other characters. Think of how he plays Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, and even his pal Daffy for laughs. He is more of a Groucho Marx type character than an every-man. We don’t identify with him. We only laugh at his victims (because they always deserve what he gives them). That too is an opinion. And even if one of his creators were to say that this was the intent, it still is not proven until all of them agree. And they all had very different ways of doing things.
But these are only informed opinions. You cannot be proven wrong whether you agree or disagree with them. You are entitled to your own interpretations and opinions because they are not provable facts. There is no one way to view any opinion.
Opinions, even un-informed opinions and religious beliefs are never either wrong or right. You don’t make a mistake when you have an opinion. It only becomes a mistake when you try to use it as a fact, or mistakenly believe it is a fact.
So, there is my lesson for those Facebook arguers who never seem to know the difference. It’s all color-coded and everything. So try using this new knowledge when arguing with me, rather than calling me stupid, or making your point IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS!