5.b.17 – Facts or opinions?

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July 17, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

Facts or opinions?

Imagine a newspaper or newscast in which the facts are presented naked and raw with no additional comments; how much would they appear as cold and boring? The truth is that often to our mind the opinions are more important than the facts; remember the old law of tribal life: it is more important to believe all the same thing rather than believing in what is true; both beliefs are helpful to survival, but the second is too difficult and sometimes impossible, therefore is not worth sacrificing cultural cohesion for the truth. Our nature of social animals leads us instinctively to speak and to compare our views with those of others, in order to participate in forming the public opinion. It follows that very often what we actually seek are the opinions of others regardless of the nature of the facts to which they relate.
Even this attitude can be helpful to distinguish whether we are looking for serious information or if we are just pleasantly passing the time, but it is also important to note that many times a comment on the news is essential to understand its significance or importance. Once again the problem is not in the comment itself, but in the use we instinctively do of it; to satisfy both needs it is better is to present the news, i.e. the objective fact, clearly separated from the comment: in this way it will be easy for our hypothetical reader or listener to give greater weight to the news or to the opinion according to his needs.
Depending on the type of comment then it will be easier also for those who spread the news to understand what they really want to do, if information or opinion. In the first case, the commentary will only illustrate how to interpret the fact, to explain the importance and to point out to which public it is addressed; in the latter, instead, the opinion will be used to support the issue, to assert a way of thinking, to justify an ideology.

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