Facts vs Opinions

1 year ago
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Knowing the difference between a fact and an opinion is a useful thing when it comes to reading news. A fact is a statement that can be proven true or false. An opinion is a subjective view on a certain topic, an expression of a person’s feelings. An opinion can be based on facts and sometimes that is how they are used as a tool to mislead and manipulate the audience – here comes in the importance of differentiating facts and opinions.

The main characteristics of facts and opinions are pointed out in the following table:

Basis for comparison Fact Opinion
Meaning Facts refer to something that can be verified or proved to be true. Opinion refers to a judgement or a belief about something.
Based on Observation or research. Assumption or personal view.
What is it? Objective reality Subjective statement
Verification Possible Impossible
Represents Something that really happened A perception about something
Words Shown with unbiased words Expressed with biased words
Debatable No Yes

 

This table can be a basic guide in figuring out if a text is a fact or an opinion, among other fact-checking tools.

When people express opinions they use phrases such as ‘I think…’, they use many adjectives, comparatives and superlatives, such as ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘the best’.

It should be kept in mind that when people express opinions, especially ones based on facts, they use emotional language as a manipulation technique, to make you feel like you are reading facts. Emotional language is neither right or wrong, but the way it is used can be positive or negative.

Here is an example:

Fact: London is a city in Europe with many tourist attractions, recommended by many travel agencies and advisors.

Opinion: Are you bored of living in America? A great place to visit is London, the most interesting city in Europe and all over the world.

This example is to give you an idea of what that difference looks like. However, most of the time the difference between facts and opinions is a subtle, sneaky one. Being careful when reading articles is key to informing yourself properly. It is your responsibility to make reasonable judgement about the media you are consuming.

 

 

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