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Evaluating Sources: Fact Checking, Fake News, and Bias: Fact vs Opinion

Fact vs Opinion

Before we can critique sources, we must first understand the difference between fact and opinion. 




A fact is a statement that can be proven true or false.

An opinion is a statement of belief which may or may not be backed up by facts, but cannot be proven true or false.

Is objective

Is subjective

Is discovered

Is created

States reality

Interprets reality

Can be verified

Cannot be verified

Get Your Facts Straight!

How do you know if what you are reading is factually accurate?

  • Check the date of publication
  • Supporting Sources
  • Check the references/citations
  • Use sources you know to be authoritative
  • Check for bias
  • Criticize your sources

Fact Checking Online

Opinion and Logical Fallacies

How do you criticize someone’s opinion/argument/thesis in a way that makes sense?

By understanding how to formulate an argument using logic and what makes an argument fallacious, you will be better able to formulate your own logical arguments and criticize those of others. You may think you know why some argument is wrong, but unless you can explain why, then you are speculating.

An entire course could be devoted to studying logical fallacies, but I recommend checking out these sites: 

Five Fallacies

Even More Fallacies

Subjective vs Objective

  • Objective information reviews many points of view. It is intended to be unbiased. News reporters are supposed to be objective and report the facts of an event. Encyclopedias and other reference materials provide objective information.

    Example: "99% of U.S households have at least one TV set."

  • Subjective information is one person's opinion. In a newspaper, the editorial section is the place for subjectivity. It can be based on fact, but it is one person's interpretation of that fact. In this way, subjective information is also analytical.

             Example: "It is clear that even though many people are poor, television is more important than anything else."

Contents: courtesy of Information Literacy ODU