Distinguishing Fact from Opinion
- A fact is a statement of actuality or occurrence which is based on direct evidence, actual experience, or observation.
- A statement of fact describes the world without interpreting it.
- To test whether a fact is accurate or not, you can observe or make an experiment.
- The Nile is the longest river in the world.
- Jakarta has 7.500.000 population.
- UKI is an Indonesian private university.
- Pollution can kill fish and plants that live in rivers.
- English is the most interesting language in the world.
- An opinion is a statement that expresses an attitude, a belief, or a point of view.
- It reveals an author’s personal feelings, beliefs, attitudes, or judgments on a particular subject. It tells you not only what was seen but how it was seen by the author as well.
- Since opinions depend on the personal experience, history, culture, and training of the people who hold them, though they are sometimes supported by facts, they cannot be judged true or false, right or wrong.
- The Nile is the most beautiful river in the world.
- Teenagers are too moody to be trusted.
- Young people think they’ll live forever and can’t be hurt.
- Monas is the most wonderful tower in Asia.
Facts vs. Opinions
o States reality
o Can be verified
o Presented with unbiased words
o Interprets reality
o Can NOT be verified
o Presented with value words
C. Blend of Fact & Opinion
Many statement use words or phrases that belong to both concrete and abstract language. Such statement is a blend of fact and opinion.
- An extraordinary and imaginative film, Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” earned several million dollars in the first weekend of its American debut.
- Because of a newly formed and largely incompetent national weather service, Mentawai island, West Sumatra was practically destroyed in a horrifying tsunami that left thousands dead.
The italicized phrase/clause are opinions, while the rests are facts.
D. Justified Opinion
- A justified opinion is the one supported by a number of convincing and relevant facts. It is worthy of one’s serious consideration and could be take to enrich his knowledge.
- Unjustified opinions lack of factual support. To take them seriously, one needs to do further reading on the subject.
Look at the following paragraph!
People in Southeast Asia are living in both traditional and modern culture. In this region, cities of more than one million people—such as Bangkok, manila, Singapore, and Jakarta with Western-style high rise buildings and automobile-clogged streets—spread into rise-growing countryside where peasants still plow with water buffaloes and live in little wooden house on stilts. Jet airliners take off from big municipal airports and in a few minutes are flying over mountains inhabited by tribesmen who wear almost no clothes and still hunt with poisoned darts. The king of Laos lives in a French-style palace with western décor, but for official ceremonies he dons the baggy panung, the pantaloons worn by his ancestors for a thousand years. On the Indonesian island of Bali, barefoot men and girls perform elegant traditional dances in dusty village squares and then go see an American movie at the local theater.
The idea expressed in the topic sentence, that “People in Southeast Asia are living in both traditional and modern culture” is supported by a number of convincing and relevant facts. Thus it is justified.
What about following paragraph?
People of different ethnic backgrounds just can’t live harmoniously in the same neighborhood. A mass chaos can easily occur due to ethnic difference. The disputes between ethnic differences are common in the world history. In addition, almost everyone I’ve talked to thinks the same way. So we must always be cautious when living with people of different ethnic backgrounds in a neighborhood.
The idea expressed in the topic sentence, that “People of different ethnic backgrounds just can’t live harmoniously in the same neighborhood” is truly supported by some supporting details. However, they are not convincing facts. Thus the idea is unjustified.
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