Planting seeds of truth | The Observer | Roz Rogoff | |

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By Roz Rogoff

Planting seeds of truth

Uploaded: Apr 24, 2011

Too much of what people believe is told to them as fact but is really false or at best an opinion. I teach Critical Thinking in my job as an Online College Instructor. The whole point of critical thinking is to differentiate facts from fallacies or opinions.

Opinions are fine. I have lots of them, which I'm sure all of my readers know. Fallacies are not fine and are often very destructive. Therefore it's important to recognize the difference between an opinion, a fact, and a fallacy.

For example if I say Donald Trump covers his bald head with a comb over of hair from the back of his head, that's a fact. Everyone sees it and almost everyone comments on it one way or another. If I said it looks bad or weird, that's an opinion. Trump doesn't think so, or he would stop doing it, but most people who see it have a negative opinion of it.

What Donald Trump does with his hair isn't very important, but what Donald Trump would do if elected President is. So opinions about that matter, and if his hairdo influences those opinions, it matters too.

Most elections are based on opinions or beliefs in the opinions of others, even if a lot of facts are presented along with them. Each party will present its opinion of the facts. "Our guy did a lot of good things, and their guy (or gal) did a lot of bad things." The things (facts) might be the same, but whether they are good or bad are usually opinions supported by another set of facts or fallacies.

Fallacies are lies posing as facts and that's where things (facts) get muddied. There's a famous quote by the late Democratic Senator from New York State, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Yet all kinds of numbers and statistics are thrown around as facts during a political campaign.

I was criticized by Steve O'Brien, or maybe I was damned with faint praise, for reporting City Council meetings as, ". . . meeting notes. That said, I do appreciate getting at least that level of 'what happened at the meeting' information from you."

Well that's what I believe "reporting" is or should be. It shouldn't be spinning or slanting or trying to make a story out of something that isn't there.

Reporting should be objective. The reader should be given the facts, or as close to a description of who said what and how others reacted to it as is possible to report. Then the reader can interpret what happened through his or her own biases and filters.

We are now in an era of rampant opinions posing as news. Gone are the days (if they ever were) when TV News Anchors were the objective providers of facts. Too much of what passes for news these days is "enhanced" by the media for their political, social, or commercial benefit. Not in the Express, of course.

I try to keep my opinions in my blogs and not on the News page, and I always try to support my opinions with facts.

Like Jonny Appleseed I drop facts whenever I go into the barren landscape of ignorance to plant and grow truth trees. OK I got a little carried away there, but I hope my blogs will provide a forest of facts for me to share with you.