Lots of smart people — and I’m talking borderline-Asperger’s smart here — that I know have trouble distinguishing between ‘facts’ and ‘opinions’. And some of them really love drawing attention to it (“That’s just your opinion!”). So I’m going to fulfill the dream of every blogger (mouthing off unwarranted opinions as if anybody actually cares) and teach these folks a lesson. Since many people learn visually and by examples, we will first require an ugly painting to make the point:
Once you have sufficiently admired that thing of beauty, we can move on and compare two different statements expressing similar sentiments about this horrific piece of crap art.
- This painting is ugly.
- I think this painting is ugly.
If I say (1), obviously I’m stating my opinion. If I have to explicitly tell you that what I’m stating is an opinion, then you have a social disorder. If I say (2), then I’m making a statement of fact about my opinion. See, the first statement is an opinion of the vomit print painting, while the second is a statement of fact about my opinion of the anal giblets high art. Opinion. Fact. Different.
Similarly, if I say something like “man, it always rains on my day off,” I don’t mean that literally. With a harmless little example like that, I think it’s plain as day that I couldn’t possibly actually mean that it rains every single day that I have off work. So since we’ve established that convention — part of a whole world of devices called “figurative language” — I can say that women are worse at sports and math than men and that Coldplay sucks and you can’t get mad at me.