From Intellectual Takeout:
A few years ago, the ACT released a study showing that K-12 teachers and college instructors believe discerning between fact and opinion is one of the most important things students can learn. Unfortunately, less than 20 percent of first-year college students are able to tell the difference between these two items.
As it turns out, discerning between fact and opinion doesn’t appear to be the sole problem of millennials. According to a recent Pew report, other Americans struggle with this task as well. Pew explains:
“A new Pew Research Center survey of 5,035 U.S. adults examines a basic step in that process: whether members of the public can recognize news as factual – something that’s capable of being proved or disproved by objective evidence – or as an opinion that reflects the beliefs and values of whoever expressed it.”
The study posed ten statements to participants, five of which were factual, five of which were opinions. . . . Only one in four adults were able to correctly identify all the factual statements.
. . . .
The author and educator Richard Weaver (1910-1963) offered some thoughts on this subject in his book Ideas Have Consequences. According to Weaver, the continual bombardment of information, whether it be fact or opinion, is keeping us from discerning the core, root principles which can help us sort our thoughts:
“The whole tendency of modern thought, one might say its whole moral impulse, is to keep the individual busy with endless induction. Since the time of Bacon the world has been running away from, rather than toward, first principles, so that, on the verbal level, we see ‘fact’ substituted for ‘truth,’ and on the philosophic level, we witness attack upon abstract ideas and speculative inquiry.”
Weaver goes on to explain that even those who are able to recognize their facts may be missing the deeper meaning and thoughts which underlie and support them. The trick, notes Weaver, is not just to accumulate knowledge and facts, but to really know how to use them effectively
Link to the rest at Intellectual Takeout