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Clearing up distinction between opinions and assumptions:

I get the impression that a lot of people on this site confuse opinions with assumptions. I've seen it in this discussion, as well as in some PM conversations relating to other threads.

It's somewhat understandable that such confusion might occur, as both are often contrasted with facts. However, the distinction is pretty crucial, and we need some thread to link to for future reference in order to address it.

For now, I'm going to use the approach I was taught in an economics course at MUN; the "positive vs. normative" distinction.
  • "Positive" statements are claims about what is the case. (For example, if someone were to claim that the majority of Americans considered Bush a good president.) Both facts and assumptions fall under this category, and the distinction between those two is in the level of certainty.
  • "Normative" statements are more along the lines of whether or not one considers it a good thing that something is the case. (For the same example as before, if someone were to claim specifically that Bush was a good president, and/or to claim that it's a good thing Americans think that way, etc.) Opinions would fall under this category.

Of course, "positive" might be a less-than-ideal word, given its association with "pleasant, " or "certain, " or "the electrical charge opposite that of the electron, " etc... so if someone has an explanation that sums this up while using better words that would be appreciated.

As it is, I'd like to think this is a decent enough explanation for future reference in clearing up the distinction.

edited 29th Dec '11 7:19:06 PM by HiddenFacedMatt

"I even like the idea of a nice man who sees me when I'm sleeping and knows when I'm awake. And that man is Barack Obama." - Bill Maher
Functionally, an assumption is a kind of opinion. It is an opinion that something is true. If it is certainly true, it is not an assumption.

Perhaps instead of trying to figure out what the distinction is, it would be useful recognize that there isn't one. Not in any sense that would serve that point.

edited 29th Dec '11 7:33:42 PM by rodneyAnonymous

Becky: Who are you? The Mysterious Stranger: An angel.
Huck: What's your name? The Mysterious Stranger: Satan.
No. That's the point. You can't be "of the opinion" something is true. Something is true or it isn't. You can assume something to be true and then base an opinion off of that, certainly. But that is not the same thing. For example, consider the statement "I'm of the opinion it rains" when it, in fact, does not rain. Is this statement true or false? Compare to "I'm assuming it rains" in the same situation.

The problem really is that people are just sloppy with language. Conflating opinion with assumption, like people do with theory and hypothesis. Or when parsing the previous statement taking "like" to mean "exactly the same in every respect". Furthermore, on the matter of opinions, not all opinions are created equal. "I like strawberries" is on a whole other level as, say, Ebert's criticism of movie x; even when uttered by the same. Of course, if people were more careful with language then they on average are, normal conversation would pretty much grind to a halt. The average conversation would be so very much better, but oh-so rare.

Long Live the King
For example, consider the statement "I'm of the opinion it rains" when it, in fact, does not rain. Is this statement true or false? Compare to "I'm assuming it rains" in the same situation.

So it does not rain with the guy making the assumption? Then both situations are exactly the same. Two people making a stupid remark...

Which brings me to your statement of:
No. That's the point. You can't be "of the opinion" something is true.

... Yes... You can. That's what an assumption is... "Declaring" an opinion to be true, to further discussion or make decisions...

Pro-Freedom Fanatic
An opinion is a belief, more or less strongly held.

An assumption is a conjecture. You don't know, admit you don't know, and you make an educated guess.

edited 30th Dec '11 3:22:25 AM by SavageHeathen

You exist because we allow it and you will end because we demand it.
[up] Yup.

An assumption is declaring an idea before or after facts are fully formed and/or compiled. I can assume that it rains when there are dark clouds in the sky, without knowing that there may be other factors involved with rainfall, just as much as I can assume that it won't rain when there are clear signs that it may.

An opinion is an idea about or of facts. Being, "In the opinion of rain, " only makes sense if you hold an opinion about the subject itself, as holding an opinion about a fact being a fact isn't an opinion, but a belief . I can hold the opinion that rain is rain only when it's heavy, whereas I could also hold the opinion (perhaps not at the same time) that rain is only rain when any water, regardless of how hard it may be coming down, is rain.

An opinion is a personal view about a fact, whereas an assumption is a belief without any or total proof.

Not Actually Indie
An opinion is subjective. A positive (that is, describing objective facts) belief cannot be an opinion. You may believe that it is raining, but you are not of the opinion that it is raining.

Hence the saying "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."

Confusion on this matter often leads people to defend their beliefs on the basis that they're "entitled to their opinion, " when in fact the belief they are defending can be confirmed or denied as a matter of evidence.

It is my opinion that nobody should consider themselves entitled to believe something that isn't true.
...eventually, we will reach a maximum entropy state where nobody has their own socks or underwear, or knows who to ask to get them back.
The OP wants to say opinions are subjective, assumptions are objective.

Of course there is a difference between the meanings of the words. But not in that sense. They are both subjective.
Becky: Who are you? The Mysterious Stranger: An angel.
Huck: What's your name? The Mysterious Stranger: Satan.
 9 They Call Me Tomu, Mon, 2nd Jan '12 10:33:22 AM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
Is it objectively true that it is likely that the sun will rise again tomorrow? Or is it objectively true that the sun will rise again tomorrow (presuming, of course, that looking into the future, it actually happens).

Is probability objective? Or is probability by its very nature an opinion of the likeliness of events?

<Gong>

It is objectively true that the sun will not rise in the morning.
Still new. Still learning. Asking questions and making mistakes.
 11 They Call Me Tomu, Wed, 4th Jan '12 10:16:38 AM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
Oh quiet you.

But that's the thing; it is our opinion that it rises in the morning. In this case, opinion means "perspective". Whether there is a technical difference between assumption and opinion, or opinion and fact, the truth is that common usage does not always follow those distinctions.

Pisses me off, it does.

People see the sun on the horizon in the morning. They see it overhead at noon. They see it occupy a line from one to the other. They conclude that the sun rises. They are in error. From their perspective (opinion), it rises, but it doesn't. Even when we know this, we say it anyway.

Definitions are another one. Words mean what they mean to the people listening and using them. Lewis Carol had the caterpillar mock that, but it's how society works.
Still new. Still learning. Asking questions and making mistakes.
 13 They Call Me Tomu, Wed, 4th Jan '12 1:49:52 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
"The sun rises" is a figure of speech.

^^ Humpty Dumpty, actually. Not the caterpillar.

edited 4th Jan '12 1:55:19 PM by Newfable

 15 Drunk Girlfriend, Wed, 4th Jan '12 1:58:11 PM from Castle Geekhaven
@Newfable: Actually.... it was a summation of the dialogue that happened at the tea party.

Nevermind, I was reading it wrong.

edited 4th Jan '12 2:00:36 PM by DrunkGirlfriend

"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
We still teach children that "The sun rises in the east." The phrase has been promoted to "figure of speech". It was, at one time, scientifically correct.

Oops! ><
Still new. Still learning. Asking questions and making mistakes.
 17 They Call Me Tomu, Thu, 5th Jan '12 2:16:46 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
Fair enough. And I'll grant that it's entirely plausible that we don't really explain the distinction to children early enough so as to prevent them from having the misconception.

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