Fact, opinion and reasoned judgment can be found in both primary and secondary sources of information, and being able to distinguish among them in a text is an important critical thinking skill. It is up to the reader to determine what type of information is in the text and how credible the information in the source is. Facts should be given the greatest credibility because they are provable. Opinions should be given the least amount of credibility because they are expressing someone’s feelings or beliefs about a topic and are not provable. Reasoned judgment falls somewhere in the middle of the two. The reader must keep in mind that the inferences or conclusions drawn by the writer, while based on fact, may not be the same inferences or conclusions that might be drawn by other writers or researchers.
Now review the following chart about fact, opinion and reasoned judgment.
|Distinguishing Fact, Opinion and Reasoned Judgment|
A fact is something that can be shown to be true, to exist or have happened. It can be proven.
When reading, ask yourself, is this something that can be proven?
An opinion is a belief or judgment that cannot be proven.
When reading, ask yourself, is this expressing a feeling or belief?
Reasoned judgment is making a logical inference or conclusion based on fact.
When reading, ask yourself, is the author making a logical inference or conclusion based on something that can be proven?