Facts and Opinions – Not What You Learned in 6th Grade

  • Pan Pizza beats either Deep Dish or Thin Crust. And it’s not close.
  • Iced Caramel Coffee is the best wake up juice on the planet.
  • Star Wars is the greatest sci-fi movie ever made.
  • The Lion, The Witch and Wardrobe is the best novel ever written.
  • Few bands capture the heart of contemporary Christian music better than Casting Crowns.

Each of the preceding statements is an opinion. Not to take too much credit for the brilliance of said opinions, but they are all my opinions. I’d be hard pressed to prove any of it. It’s all a matter of taste and preference.

Now let’s examine some facts. Hypothetically, you and I are going to meet for lunch. Where do we want to eat?

Consider Restaurant A:

  • Restaurant A has 87 reviews on Yahoo Local, with an average rating of 4.2.
  • Restaurant A’s main chef was trained at the  prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School.
  • Restaurant A was recently given a 5 star review in the Life section of our local paper.

Consider Restaurant B:

  • Restaurant B is located 30 minutes from either of our places of work. We have an hour for lunch.
  • Restaurant B has a higher than median turnover in their waitstaff.
  • We have a mutual acquaintance who  recently went to Restaurant B and told us of poor service and overpriced food.

So where are we going for lunch?

Restaurant A or Restaurant B?

It doesn’t matter which one you picked because Restaurant A and Restaurant B are the same place.

It’s important to remember, especially in this political season, that facts aren’t just facts. Facts are opinions, or at the very least they are used as opinions. I learned this from a most unlikely source as I was reading Matthew Berry’s column preparing for my fantasy football draft.

Every single person who does any kind of analysis or is paid to give their opinion does it. The dude in the cube next to you presenting before the board next week? He does it. The teacher you trust to impart wisdom to your kids does it. Every fantasy analyst you read, every political pundit, every pop-culture commentator, everyone who’s ever appeared on one of ESPN’s many debate style shows, everyone. They present facts. But they only present some facts. The facts that support whatever OPINION they have. 

If my research shows I should like the guy, I tell you positive stats. If it’s the other way, I highlight the negative.

They mislead you. And they do it on purpose. They do it because they have to. – Matthew Berry, ESPN (emphasis added)

The bottom line is whether they are presenting to the board, or giving an expert opinion on a TV show, or even writing a blog post, everyone who must give an opinion doesn’t have the time in our attention deficit disorder society to present ALL the facts of EVERY side of the argument. They present THEIR opinion carefully disguised as a set of true, cross-checked, heavily researched, undeniable, pure, unadulterated facts. They research all the statistics and then completely manipulate them to make a point.

It is up to us to figure out who to trust and who not to trust and then make our own calls. Anyone who is producing content is just taking small pieces of pictures far too large to tell in any kind of one sitting setting and making a call.

Image: Pete’s Powerpoint Station

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  1. […] think are germane to the debate over media bias and far too long to cover in a comment. They are : Facts and Opinions and Confirmation […]