0004 Use Critical-Reasoning Skills to Evaluate Written Material
Distinguish Between Fact and Opinion in Written Material
This skill is one that you probably have practiced before in school. Facts should be objective and provable; opinions are statements of belief, feeling or judgment. In college textbooks, however, you may have to give considerable thought to statements because one sentence may combine fact and opinion.
Always look for “judgment words” like too in the following sentence to identify an opinion:
“The recent appointment of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court made the court too conservative.”
It is a fact that Samuel Alito is a recent appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court; it may also be a fact, if the writer uses Alito’s decisions on lower court cases as examples, that Justice Alito is a conservative, but it is the writer’s opinion that Alito’s appointment makes the court too conservative. Just that one word would make the statement above an opinion rather than a fact.