Fake News, Facts and Opinions

I have a different view on facts than most. Before we get into that, lets look at their definition. A dictionary.com defines a fact as

a thing that is indisputably the case

While an opinion is

a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

These definitions mean the classification of fact or opinion is subjective.  Lets look at an example. Consider the following example

Russia influenced our latest election.  According to John Schiendler, a columnist at the Observer who I respect.

Crazy to deny: Russian espionage & covert action influenced the 2016 election.

Crazy to believe: Russians literally “hacked” our election.

And yet Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Ann Coulter all deny the former.

So is the idea that Russian espionage & convert action influenced our election is that an opinion or is it a fact.  If I had to classify it, I would say that it is an opinion. But I suspect Mr. Schiendler would call the Russian influence a fact. If you agree, lets go down the rabbit hole a little more.

  • Wikileaks is a GRU (Russian Intelligence Front).
  • The Source of the hacks on Hillary’s emails were Russian.
  • Donald Trump was elected fairly.
  • Donald Trump is a buffoon.
  • Hillary Clinton had a pay for play scheme with the Clinton Foundation.

Fact, opinion or false fact?  Who knows.  To be frank, I have a hard time enough time figuring out what is true anymore.

Because of this, I prefer a different classification.  Data and conclusions.  Data consists of things we measure i.e. touch, taste, see, hear and smell while conclusions are what we believe to be true because of the data.  Each conclusion can then have a degree of confidence based on how strongly the data supports the conclusion.

I read John Schindler’s arguments for how and why Russian influences elections and the examples he gave with Brexit, Crimea, Ukraine and the US (the data being Schiendler claimed ____).  I therefore concluded that the Russians attempted to influence the U.S. election through social media and wiki leaks.  Or perhaps it is better to say that I accepted John’s conclusions. I further suspect that they also succeeded in their attempt.

Ignoring the concept of fact and opinion and instead focusing on data and conclusions has been helpful in keeping the different narratives from the many sources straight during the last confusing year.  I hope the framework helps you deal with the “era of fake news”.

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Fake News, Facts and Opinions

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