One of the things you learn when you get your first list of spelling words is that you’re going to have to write definitions for each word. The second thing you learn is that you can’t use the word in your definition of the word.
For example, defining a fact as a fact would not work in 2nd Grade. But does it work in today’s fact-bloated culture? Does simply saying that something is a fact make it a fact?
Let’s examine what a fact is not: A fact is not an opinion. It is not a piece of or even a collection of data. It is not a recommendation. It is not a truth—even a great truth.
Facts are indisputable and can be proven by accepted methodologies. They are not subject to popular vote or opinion polls. They exist whether we know about them or not. And they exist whether we approve of them or not.
As my favorite astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said,
“You get to say the world is flat because we live in a country that guarantees free speech, but it’s not a country that guarantees that anything you say is correct.”
Very little of the information we receive on a daily basis is factual—no matter what the source. So, the next time you hear someone “stating a fact,” listen closely and see if you agree. You probably know better.
And that’s a fact.