With each passing day of the Trump administration, facts are harder and harder to come by. We’re still coping with the consequences of weaponizing social media and the proliferation of fake news, which in no small part defined the 2016 election. So it should come as no surprise—but is still extremely depressing all the same—that a new survey released Monday found the vast majority of Americans can’t really tell the difference between a fact and an opinion in news stories.
According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, only one-quarter of Americans could totally differentiate between fact and opinion, which is pretty terrifying! According to Reuters, 5,035 Americans over the age of 18 participated in the survey, which consisted of classifying certain statements:
Participants were given five factual statements such as “spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid make up the largest portion of the U.S. federal budget,” and five opinion statements such as “democracy is the greatest form of government.” They were asked to identify which ones were factual and which were opinions.
Just 26% of Americans were able to correctly identify all five of the factual statements. On the five opinion statements, 35% were able to classify all of them correctly. And about one-fourth of the participants got it “most or all wrong” when trying to distinguish between facts and opinions. A whole fourth!!
Some factors that affected the participants’ ability to accurately distinguish between fact and opinion, per Reuters: “political awareness, trust in the news media,” and “digital savviness,” or the degree to which they are confident using digital devices and the internet.” Both Democrats and Republicans were more likely to view statements as factual when they agreed with them, even if they were opinions.
America: where immigrant children are being torn from their parents, the president constantly tweets “witch hunt,” and apparently no one can tell what is fact and what is opinion. Cool.