Pew study finds Americans can’t tell fact from opinion

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A new poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center suggests people are having difficulty telling the difference between fact and opinion.

People participating in the Pew study were provided five statements, including “spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid make up the largest portion of the U.S. Federal budget,” and five opinion statements, including “Democracy is the greatest form of government.”

They were also two statements that were ambiguous.


Just 26 percent of the adults surveyed correctly identified all five factual statements as factual, according to the study.

And just 35 percent identified all five opinion statements as opinion.

Pew also found that participants “were more likely to classify both factual and opinion statements as factual when they appealed most to their side.”

Nine-in-10 Democrats correctly identified the statement “President Barack Obama was born in the United States” as factual, while only 63 percent of Republicans saw it as factual.

At the same time, 37 percent of Democrats identified the statement “increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is essential for the health of the U.S. economy” as factual and not as opinion. Only 17 percent of Republicans viewed this statement of opinion as fact.

Pew Director of Journalism Research Amy Mitchell said the study “raises caution” around news consumers’ ability “to sort news quickly.”

“At this point, the U.S. does not seem to have become completely detached from what is factual and what is not. But with the vast majority of Americans getting at least some news online, the gaps in ability across population groups to sort news quickly and correctly raises caution,” said Mitchell. 

Tags Barack Obama Facts Pew Research Pew Research Center public polling

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