A Daily Dispatch from the Front Lines of Leadership.


The Difference Between Fact, Opinion, and Truth

Given the strong and varied opinions that surround many social topics and matters, examining the differences between fact, opinion, and truth may prove useful to leaders as they sort through their own views about contemporary social issues. 

A fact is indisputable. Facts can be objectively verified and proven through evidence. Facts are not decided by how many people believe in them. They are concrete realities that don’t change. Facts are determined by objective, not subjective, measurement. As evidence mounts, facts become irrefutable. Over time, we acknowledge facts. We don’t create them. 

Opinions, on the hand, are value judgments that expresses a feeling or view. They may or may not be supported by facts. Opinions rely on assumptions and are exceedingly dependent on the perspective of those holding them. They are also highly temporal and can change quickly when new information or facts become available. A deep commitment to an opinion doesn’t make it any more or less accurate. 

Truth is created by people to describe how things really are. They are best described as a state of belief that is thought to represent a universal reality. We decide what truths we are willing to believe in. Truths don’t have to be logical or verifiable. They simply have to be shared. They can arise from faith, commitment, or experience. When like-minded people agree as to a given reality of how things are, then a truth emerges. 

Facts, opinions, and truth are often at war with each other. They vie for influence over how people think about a given issue or topic. Distinguishing between them is essential work for smart leaders. 

As they form their own views about a matter, good leaders will give more weight to truths and opinions that rely more heavily on facts. Fact-based opinions, and truths that are informed by facts, are more credible over time. 

Denying facts in support of a view is not only irrational, but disingenuous. It suggests that objectively reaching a conclusion is less important than the ideology that is in vogue at the moment.  Allowing a thinking trend or ideology to dismiss or ignore facts leads to poor quality conclusions and decisions. 

Smart leaders avoid this trap. They form opinions based on facts and accept truths when they make sense given the question at issue. To remain rational decision-makers, they leave ideology to those who have an answer before they know the question. 

Great leaders form solid opinions and make quality decisions based on facts. That’s the truth. 

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