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Deliberating Facts vs Opinions


Fake news has the potential of swaying ideologies and beliefs. The line between facts and opinions can be blurred, while statements taken out of their contexts to serve political purposes. Such manipulation of text or data is worrisome particularly when some are willful in skewing media news and reports. The Pew Research Center conducted a survey that showed only 26% of Americans can distinguish between facts and opinions in news. Therefore, it becomes crucial to have tools for tracking how "alternative facts" spread, and for identifying fake stories to block them altogether. Facebook, Google and big media companies are making baby-steps efforts to stop the spread of fake stories.

With only a quarter of our population savvy in discerning biased or fake news, the responsibilities of educating the public also lie in “the politically aware, digitally savvy and those more trusting of the news.”

36% of Americans with high levels of political awareness (those who are knowledgeable about politics and regularly get political news) correctly identified … factual news statements, compared with about half as many (17%) of those with low political awareness. Similarly, 44% of the very digitally savvy (those who are highly confident in using digital devices and regularly use the internet) identified … statements correctly versus 21% of those who are not as technologically savvy. And though political awareness and digital savviness are related to education in predictable ways, these relationships persist even when accounting for an individual’s education level.

Partisan affiliations also influence how Americans differentiate between factual and opinion statements. Both Republicans and Democrats show a propensity to favor statements that appeal to their own political interests. In other words, they label both factual and opinion statements as factual to rationalize, justify, or solidify their own political side.

Knowing the difference between facts and opinions is then, the first step to raise awareness about the fact/opinion dynamics:

A fact is a statement that can be proven true or false. An opinion is an expression of a

person’s feelings that cannot be proven. Opinions can be based on facts or emotions and

sometimes they are meant to deliberately mislead others. Therefore, it is important to be

aware of the author’s purpose and choice of language. Sometimes, the author lets the

facts speak for themselves.

Emotional, logical or ethical persuasion is neither right nor wrong, but the way in which it is used can be positive or negative. The more savvy and educated people need to teach and preach the practice of making reasonable judgement about the material in the media, and of drawing conclusions about the credibility of the texts, news, and reports. Facts or opinions will show -- if one judges objectively, and inspects both sides of an argument with an open mind.

审议事实与意见

假新闻有可能影响意识形态和信仰。许多脱离事实情境而提出的陈述存为达成政治目的,因此事实和意见之间的界限可能会模糊不清。当某些政治言论故意倾斜媒体新闻和报道时,这种对文本或数据的操纵是特别令人担忧的。PEW研究中心进行的一项调查显示,只有26% 的美国人可以正确区分新闻中的客观事实和个人观点。因此,追踪“另类事实”如何传播的科技,以及识别虚假故事以完全阻止其蔓延的工具便变得至关重要。 Facebook,Google和大型媒体公司正在采取此类的研究审议与措施,以阻止虚假故事的传播。

在当前只有四分之一的人口能够识别偏见或虚假新闻之时,教育公众的责任也落在于具有“政治意识,懂得电子科技和对新闻能加于信任的人士”。

36%具有高度政治意识的美国人(了解政治并经常阅读政治新闻的人)正确地辨认......事实新闻之声明,相比之下,政治意识较低的只有大约一半(17%)的人能够判别其不同。同样,44%懂得电子科技的人士(对使用电子数据设备和互联网非常有信心的人)能识别......正确的陈述,而相较之下,不熟悉电子科技的只有21%能正确分辨事实和意见。尽管政治意识和电子科技能力与教育程度相关,但即使考虑到个人的教育水平,此种倾向关系仍然存在。

党派关系也会影响美国人如何区分事实和意见陈述。共和党人和民主党人皆倾向于赞成有关其政治利益的言论。换句话说,他们将有利于其政治姿态之事实和意见陈述皆标记为事实,以便合理化,明确化或巩固自己的政治利益。

因此,了解事实和意见之间基本的区别是提高对事实/意见之认识的第一步:

事实乃为一种可以证明是真是假的陈述。意见是一种表达

个人感受的陈述,是无法证明的。意见基于事实或情感,也可能

故意误导他人。因此,重要的是必须了解作者的目的和语言选择。

有时,作者会让事实说明一切。

根据情感,逻辑或道德来达成说服力之言论或陈述既不对也不错,但其使用的方式可以是积极或消极的。精明和受过教育的人需要教授和宣传对媒体资讯做出合理的判断,并决定文本,新闻和报道的可信度。如果我们能客观地评判,并以开放的心态检查争论的双方言论和陈述,事实或意见将清楚可见,不容置疑。

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