22 June 2018   2 comments

The Pew Research Center conducted a fascinating study on how accurately US adults discriminate between “factual” and “opinion” articles in media sources.  The Center carefully constructed these articles and one should read the article to determine whether the distinction was viably made in the study.  Given that caveat, the study revealed a surprising lack of critical thought among most American adults and, not surprisingly, a high degree of correlation between the politics of those surveyed and whether they thought the article was “factual” or “opinion”.  According to the study:

“The main portion of the study, which measured the public’s ability to distinguish between five factual statements and five opinion statements, found that a majority of Americans correctly identified at least three of the five statements in each set. But this result is only a little better than random guesses. Far fewer Americans got all five correct, and roughly a quarter got most or all wrong. Even more revealing is that certain Americans do far better at parsing through this content than others. Those with high political awareness, those who are very digitally savvy and those who place high levels of trust in the news media are better able than others to accurately identify news-related statements as factual or opinion.”

It is difficult to figure out how to redress this problem.  One must want to know the truth in order to do the difficult work to determine whether something is true.  Apparently, supporting a political position is more important to many Americans than is being accurate.



The European Union (EU) has slapped retaliatory tariffs on US products in response to the US tariffs on aluminum and steel.  The retaliatory tariffs will raise the cost of imports from the US by about $34 billion.  In a letter to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the EU listed the very specific products on which it is raising tariffs.  In the letter, the EU justified the tariffs in terms that are permitted by the rules of the WTO:

“On 8 March 2018 the United States of America (“United States”) adopted safeguard measures in the form of a tariff increase on imports of certain steel and aluminium products (at rates of 25% and 10%, respectively), effective from 23 March 2018 and with an unlimited duration. The effective date of the tariff increase with respect to the European Union was deferred to 1 May and subsequently to 1 June 2018. Notwithstanding the United States’ characterisation of these
measures as security measures, they are safeguard measures.

“The United States failed to notify the WTO Committee on Safeguards under Article 12.1(c) on taking a decision to apply safeguard measures.”

President Trump escalated the trade war after the EU move by announcing that he will impose a 20% tariff on automobiles imported from Europe.  Apparently the US Commerce Department is investigating whether imported European cars pose a national security risk–an argument that should invite disbelief.  The world is perilously close to an official trade war, reminiscent of the 1930s and which aggravated the Great Depression.


The United Nations is asserting that more than 500 people have been killed in Venezuela by an extra-judicial government group known as the “Operations for the Liberation of the People”.  The killings are designed to stifle protest and opposition to the autocratic rule of Nicolás Maduro.  The UN was not allowed into Venezuela to conduct its investigation, but had to rely on electronic testimony as well as interviews with Venezuelan exiles.  The UN charges that the rule of law is “virtually absent” in Venezuela.  The matter was referred to the UN Human Rights Council, but no concrete action against the government of Venezuela was suggested.

Posted June 22, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

2 responses to “22 June 2018

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. My tenth grade social studies teacher spent a good part of the year focused on helping us ascertain the difference between fact and opinion. Even at that time, I was amazed at how difficult it was for some of my classmates to grasp the concept. The experience has stuck with me all theses years. I often wonder how many teachers in high schools today devote time to the concept. (Do they even know it themselves??).

    Thanks for highlighting the study.

    Barbara Gray MHC ‘55


    Barbara Gray barbara@grayco.com



Leave a Reply to Barbara Gray Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: