In America, the young find distinguishing fact from opinion easier than their elders

This doesn’t surprise me, because you have a longer time for your biases in life to build up, and you be come resistant to new info and to change. So lies pandering to what you think you know are easy to believe. I suspect this a human thing, not just an American thing.


I also found it interesting that the factual statements they used are all actual, correct facts, without mixing in any untrue or opinion statements phrased as factual. I suppose that would alter the scope of the study.



There are no opinions. Only alternative facts.



The right is trying very hard to change this. They outlawed the teaching of Critical Thinking in Texas on the grounds that in could encourage independent thinking and lead to the questioning of “received wisdom.” I kid you not. I am sure ALEC has model legislation ready to spread this infection to other red states ASAP.


My parents, God bless em, are 2 of the most gullible people on earth.


“No funnier bear!”

The children are THEIR future.

By which I mean the youth do not owe anything to (us) oldies. They don’t need to feel any responsibility to the oldies who cannot even tell what’s true any more. They need to focus on their future only. After all, it seems like many boomers did just the same. But, very importantly, also: #notalloldpeople

ETA and if this were in the UK it would read “In UK the young find distinguishing fact from opinion easier than Daily Mail readers”. Basically it comes down to education and which media you choose to be exposed to.

No, I wrote exactly what I meant, thanks.

ETA: By ‘ours,’ I meant all of humanity.


This 73-year-old would have to look at the survey itself before giving in to the urge to dismiss it as a crude instrument and its conclusions questionable. As for breaking the population into just two groups–I suspect that there could be more useful divisions and division points. (And when I’m not sure of the factuality of an assertion, e.g., the proportion of the Federal budget given to X or Y, I look it up. I can even use books.)

Of course, my skepticism might be down to spending the last fifty-plus years observing the intellectual development of undergraduates.


I think that bit about the boomers is true, but I’d also add that the boomers also came of age in an era when trust in government and institutions was also eroding (especially in the late 60s and early 70s - watergate, pentagon papers, COINTELPRO, CIA bullshit, etc), so they’re less inclined to trust in institutions, but at the same time, depend on them in various ways… so some boomers built alternatives on that distrust of institutions, which I think has had the consequences you suggest…

I don’t know… I’ve been mulling this over for a bit lately…


I think part of the problem is the generic use of “boomers”. As a “boomer” who voted "Remain’, fervently believes “Never trust a Tory”, and has felt powerless for most of my adult life (first election vote I participated in elected Thatcher) I get a little more depressed every time I read about “it’s all the boomers’ fault”
Yes there were those who saw the writing on the wall, distrusted institutions and buit alternatives that had these conspequences, as you say
And there were those who never believed it was that bad, stuck fingers in their ears and believed everything the establishment told them (and STILL read the Daily Mail)
And then there were those who saw the writing, etc and did not build alternatives that kidded themselves, but saw the reality and railed against it and still are, for all that it ever achieved. #notall boomers

TIme for bed before I get too depressed to sleep.

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Objective truth, not fact. A fact is a known thing. The statement “String theory is the best way to look at the universe” is not factual, it’s an opinion. Objective truth exists here. String theory is either true, or it’s not. Until and unless we discover this truth, however, it’s not a fact.

Likewise, morality cannot be objectively defined. Even if you poll a population, or God himself comes down to tell you what’s what, the validity of the construct would still be debatable. There may or may not be objective morality. There could be moral truths out there. Until and unless we know them, however, any moral statements are not factual statements.


I agree, but do not blame them if they feel a need to be a little more focused on themselves. A significant proportion of humanity is responsible for this mess. But at the macro level, if the race is to survive, yes, it’s them that’ll make it happen. Too many “oldies” have proven incapable of thinking at that level.

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So much for the wisdom of ones elders.

OK. Cool.

Now if they’d only VOTE.


Good I guess?? – But is it just me or are both percentages (for young vs old) kind of low? Shouldn’t almost all people be able to “distinguish a statement of fact from a statement of opinion” ? ( regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the opinion, or feel that the statement of fact has a political purpose when certain people use it? )


I think a good part of it is simply the longer it’s been since you’ve been in school, the less you remember of what you learned, and the less practiced you are at the skills of learning. I think the ability to distinguish fact from opinion is one of those skills.

In parochial school we had a 7th/8th grade lay teacher who, quite often, would say to us, “… but don’t believe me. Check it out and prove it to yourselves.” Best teacher I ever had.


Thankyou for this thought-provoking response, Mankoi.

I must confess I haven’t come across this distinction before. And, now I check, i find that your definition of fact seems to align with Oxford, whereas Webster equates fact with (what we would both call) “objective truth”. So I’m not totally convinced, but I realise this is partly a matter of convention or (ahem) opinion.

Nonetheless, if we accept your definition that “fact” means “a known thing” (rather than a “true thing” or even a “knowable thing”) then don’t those “factual” statements listed in the survey only become facts relative to the degree to which I know them to be true? If I haven’t checked Obama’s birth record or the health costs of every country, can I call them facts while simply relying on other people’s opinions as to whether they are “known” to be true?

My gut tells me that the survey is really asking whether these questions are “verifiable” – maybe that’s what you mean too?

Well I mostly agree with you here, given your definition of “factual”. I’ll leave that one there for now.

Just gotta bring out the senility lance ever’ once in a while. Sometimes it’s a Concordance Edition of the Hound of the Baskervilles, or wrestling a deer out of the basil, it’s an Ars article burning Dick Wolf, or a gift box of 5 queer plays (not one is ever objectively queer.) The Bar Association’s Dissent issue is always good to keep on hand when refinishing to the tune of safe aerosol handling. I wish the Wayback Machine and Wikipedia on Triclosan were enough.

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