Differences between fact, inference and opinion

What is a fact?

A fact is something that can be proven right or wrong by checking with evidence.

This New York Times article showed how rivers, lakes and other bodies of water moved and shifted in three decades. Satellites captured the imaging and were used as an interactive piece to the story. “Mapping Three Decades of Global Water Change” showed bodies of water timelines in different parts of the world from an array of time periods.

“The project, which is freely available, will allow researchers to improve climate models and find evidence of the effects of climate change around the world.”

This article is an example of fact because it can be proven by the satellite imaging and researchers conducting the study.

 

What is an inference?

An inference is based off of past experiences, but they are not necessarily facts. However, inferences can be developed through logic and reasoning. They can be true when thought of logically but other circumstances may come into play that prove an inference false. Usually a conclusion is drawn whether or not facts back it up.

In an article by CNN, Jacqueline Howard urges women to get a long-lasting birth control during Trump’s presidency.

“Tweets and Facebook posts about getting intrauterine devices, or IUDs, swept social media Wednesday as women warned each other that their access to birth control might dwindle once the President-elect takes office next year.”

Rather than focus on what Trump has yet to do with the Affordable Care Act, Howard focused on what could happen. She only reported on one side of the argument by talking with an OB-GYN. A reader can easily take away a doomed future for women’s free birth control.

 

What is an opinion?

Everyone has one. Many people believe opinions are fact, but opinions are just viewpoints and beliefs. Opinions cannot be proven right or wrong by evidence.

In an article on The Guardian, a man named Robby Mook expresses his concern about Russia getting involved with more than just hacking the U.S. election.

“But there’s a deeper dimension to Russia’s actions, which deserves the free world’s urgent attention: its capacity to silently influence domestic legislation and policy-making between elections.”

Mook gives examples from past occurrences that support his theory. But that’s just it, a theory. He relies on words like “has the potential to corrupt” that can sway a reader’s opinion. However, it’s just a guess and could be completely false. A snowball effect.

Mook’s opinion is not wrong, though. He can express what his viewpoints are on Russia because he has some evidence from past events.

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