Assignment: Separating Fact From Fiction

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I. Read the Stokes (2017) article, “No, you’re not entitled to your opinion.” a. Make sure to understand the distinction the author draws between the two

different uses of the phrase “my opinion.” II. Read Brown’s (2016) article, “Actually you’re not entitled to your opinion.”

a. Again, make sure to understand the difference between the two different types of “opinion”

III. Read Rathi’s (2016) article, “A philosophy professor explains why you’re not entitled to your opinion.”

a. Make sure you understand why the article concludes that “everyone is entitled to have an opinion, but only as long as they are reasonably able to argue for it with evidence” (also understand which of the two common uses of opinion this argument refers to).

IV. Read former Senator and sociology professor Daniel Patrick Moniyhan’s quote V. Read Rouner’s (2015) article, “No, it’s not your opinion.” VI. Read the excerpt from Braithwaite’s (2005) article, “Seven Fallacies of Thought

and Reason.” a. By this point, you should have a pretty good idea about the difference

between the two most common types of “my opinion”

WRITING ASSIGNMENT To complete this assignment, you will find three situations on the internet in which someone has expressed an opinion. There is no minimum word count for this assignment. Assignment specifications: There should be five parts for each example you find.

Part 1. For each situation, embed in your document the URL link to the original source (embed the link so that the URL doesn’t show up in the text itself, but rather the text is hyper-linked.) HOW TO HYPERLINK:

a. Highlight the text to which you want the URL to be hyper-linked b. Right-click on the mouse and select “Hyperlink” from the drop-

down menu (conversely you can go to the menu bar (in word) and select “Insert” → “Hyperlink”

c. Paste the link into the box that says “Address”.

Part I. Separating fact from fiction

OR, if you found the opinion on a social media page, making it difficult or impossible to hyperlink to it, then take a screenshot and embed it into your word document (examples of both approaches are shown at the bottom of this document). If you’ve never taken a screenshot before, use Google for instructions on how to do this. Once your screenshot has been taken, you can drag and drop it right into your word document or you can go to the menu bar and select “Insert” → “Pictures” → “Picture from File”. Part 2. Describe the opinion Part 3. Based on the reading you’ve just done, identify which type of the two types of opinions each situation embodies, empirical or non-empirical (empirical = it’s an opinion that can be proven either true or false through collecting evidence, depends upon some expertise to be a legitimate opinion; non-empirical = based on tastes or preferences, subjective, can’t really be true or false) Part 4. Identify in each situation if the person is rightfully “entitled to their opinion” Part 5. Indicate if the person provides a link to a source that provides information that supports their opinion. If yes, include the link. It shouldn’t be too hard to find these, as the internet is filled with lots of people spouting lots of opinions!

Places to look for opinions: 1. Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram 2. Website like reddit, etc.. 3. The opinion pages of major newspapers 4. News websites (MSNBC, CNN, FOX, VOX, ABC news, etc…) 5. Quora.com

See below for some examples of what your assignment should look like. You needn’t include the parts in red in your answers (these are just notes to help you understand each part). Your assignment should be in Word format and uploaded to Blackboard here. (“Course Materials” → “Writing Assignments” → “Assignment #2: Separating Fact from Fiction”)

Example #1 Part 1 (the screenshot of the opinion you found)

Part 2 (describe the opinion): This is a twitter post by a neuroscientist who specializes in studying social-emotional development in children and adolescents. She is expressing concern about migrant children who are being detained by the government and implies that they’re suffering psychological harm while in detention and need to be reunited with their families.

Part 3 (identify the type of opinion): This is an empirical opinion. It’s making a truth claim about the world that can be tested. There are actually two truth claims here: (a) the number of migrant children who are currently detained by the government (this is testable in theory, assuming the data can be obtained) and (b) that changes that occur during adolescence are “vitally important”.

Part 4 (determine if the person is entitled to their opinion): This person is rightly entitled to this opinion, especially the second part (b). She is a trained expert in the area of child development.

Part 5 (report if a direct link is provided to the source): Does not provide direct links to the sources that support the opinion.

Example #2 1. (the screenshot of the opinion you found)

2. (describe the opinion): Women’s careers suffer a greater negative impact when they have children then men’s do when they (are caught?) sexually assaulting co-workers

3. (identify the type of opinion): This is an empirical opinion (in theory). Difficult to test. One obviously couldn’t test this experimentally and would have to rely on real-life data.

4. (determine if the person is entitled to their opinion): It’s not clear if this is a qualified opinion (meaning we don’t know if it’s based on actual evidence, personal experience, anecdotes or intuition). This is not to say its false. This may be true. But unless its supported by evidence, we would have to consider it a speculative hypothesis.

5. (report if a direct link is provided to the source): The person does not provide evidence to support their opinion.

Example #3

1. (the link to the opinion you found ) The Jordan Peterson All-meat diet

2. (describe the opinion): A woman in Toronto, Canada, the daughter of a celebrity psychologist, is gaining publicity as a nutritional consultant, touting an all-meat diet (just beef and water). She claims it has cured her of many physical and psychological health problems, including skin disease and depression.

3. (identify the type of opinion): This is an empirical opinion.

4. (determine if the person is entitled to their opinion): This is not a qualified opinion.

This woman is not a certified nutritionist or dietician. Mainstream nutrition scientists say extreme ketogenic diets like this are harmful. There are a handful of diet professionals who disagree.

5. (report if a direct link is provided to the source): The only evidence she provides

is anecdotal. She doesn’t offer up any pointers to legitimate scientific research supporting her claims.

  • Written Assignment #2: Separating Fact from Fiction
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