American citizens have a problem telling the difference between facts and opinion. That’s the finding of a recent survey carried out by the respected Pew organization.
It was found that only a quarter of the people polled were able to correctly distinguish between a factual statement and an opinion claim. In other words, the majority of those Americans surveyed wrongly believed that information presented to them purporting as facts were indeed facts, when the information was actually merely a subjective claim or opinion.
For example, when an opinion statement like “democracy is the best form of government” was read to them, most of the respondents defined that as a fact. Only some 25 per cent of the more than 5,000 people surveyed by Pew could correctly differentiate between facts and subjective statements.
Moreover, as the Reuters report on the study, put it: “They tend to disagree with factual statements they incorrectly label as opinions, Pew said.”
The latter tendency suggests that Americans are easily misled by false information, and perhaps more disturbingly, that they are closed-minded towards information that challenges their prejudices.
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