As Americans, we have the right to free speech. Yet, the burdens of citizenship mean that we also have a duty to stay informed by reading books and trusted news sources and to think critically about the information presented to us.
So how are Americans living up to this duty? Not very well. A new survey from the Pew Research Center found sobering results:
The findings from the survey, conducted between Feb. 22 and March 8, 2018, reveal that even this basic task presents a challenge. 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.