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Pew: Americans Have Difficulty Identifying Facts From Opinions

Pew: Americans Have Difficulty Identifying Facts From Opinions
Camille Zamboni, Blair Murphy and Brian Cano setup up a roof-top Ouija Board game painted on the top of the former Midway Hotel, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 in Windber, Pa. (AP)

By    |   Monday, 18 June 2018 07:25 PM

Americans have a tough time identifying the difference between fact and opinion in the news — with about 25 percent unable to sort it out at all, a new study showed.

In the Pew Research Center survey, participants got five statements, including “spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid make up the largest portion of the U.S. Federal budget,” and five opinion statements, including “Democracy is the greatest form of government.”

A majority of Americans correctly identified at least three of five statements in each set of fact/opinion statements presented to them — but that’s only a little better than random guesses, the researchers maintained.

Twenty-six percent got all five factual statement right; 35 percent identified all five opinion statements correctly.

“At this point, then, the U.S. is not completely detached from what is factual and what is not,” the researchers wrote. “But with the vast majority of Americans getting at least some news online, gaps across population groups in the ability to sort news correctly raise caution.”

According to Pew, certain Americans do far better at figuring things out: 36 percent of those with high political awareness aced the fact/opinion test; and 44 percent of those who are very digitally savvy identified all five opinion statements correctly.

Trust in those who do the reporting also matters in how that statement is interpreted: 39 percent who have a lot of trust in the information from national news organizations correctly identified all five factual statements, compared with 18 percent of those who have not much or no trust.

Pew also found participants “were more likely to classify both factual and opinion statements as factual when they appealed most to their side.”

Nine-in-10 Democrats correctly identified the statement “President Barack Obama was born in the United States” as factual, while only 63 percent of Republicans saw it as factual.

At the same time, 37 percent of Democrats identified the opinion statement that “increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is essential for the health of the U.S. economy” as fact; only 17 percent of Republicans viewed it as fact.

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Americans have a tough time identifying the difference between fact and opinion in the news - with about 25 percent unable to sort it out at all, a new study showed.
pew, survey, americans, problems, between, fact and opinion
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2018-25-18
Monday, 18 June 2018 07:25 PM
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