Course Content
Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

Information is Everywhere

Our society today is saturated with information. At one time not long ago, information could only come to you through some sort of reference book or, more often, a person with experience. Now any type of information can be accessed through the touch of a few buttons on a computer.

Because of this influx, it is even more important that you can analyze and evaluate the information out there. You need to be able to determine what information is actually accurate and believable. To do this, you need to be able to differentiate between facts, persuasion, and informed opinions.


Let’s begin by looking at facts. A fact is a statement that can be proven. An opinion, then, is something that cannot be proven; in other words, a person’s belief.

For example, look at this statement: ‘My school is located in Cleveland, Ohio.’ Is this statement a fact or opinion? Can it be proven that the school is in Cleveland? Of course it can. The building is either there or not. This is a fact. Now, look at this statement: ‘My school is the best school ever.’ Fact or opinion? Ask yourself, ‘Can this be proven? Or is this simply a person’s belief?’ This statement cannot be proven and only shows one person’s thoughts.

Many times writers of nonfiction present their opinions as if they were facts. This is why you need to be able to recognize the difference.


Now that you know how to differentiate between facts and opinions, let’s look at how others might try to disguise opinions as facts. This most often occurs through persuasion, which is the act of encouraging a person to believe something by appealing to reason or understanding. Essentially, persuasion involves convincing. If someone is ever trying to convince you to believe something or do something, then they are persuading you.

In today’s society, persuasion occurs everywhere. Businesses are constantly trying to persuade you to buy their products, or websites may try to convince you to believe a specific idea. You only have to watch commercials, read the newspaper, look at ads in a magazine, or read the billboards as you’re driving home to see that persuasion is all around you.

Types of Persuasion

Now that you know what persuasion is, let’s look at some common forms of persuasion. One form is called big names. In this type of persuasion, you use experts or famous people to support your argument. If you have ever seen a celebrity endorse a product on a commercial, then you have seen big names.

Another type of persuasion is logos. This form actually uses facts to support their claim. Either logic, numbers, or data can all be used as supporting facts. An example for logos would be a commercial stating that a toothpaste reduces cavities by 99%. This company is using this percentage to try to persuade you to buy their product.

Next, pathos is another very common type of persuasion. Pathos involves appealing to the audience’s emotions to try to persuade them. Have you ever seen a commercial for a dog rescue shelter? Usually a sad song plays while images of hurt and abused animals pan across the screen. This is an obvious example of pathos. They want you to feel so bad for the animals that you donate to the shelter or even adopt one of the dogs. Pathos is a very common form of persuasion because so many things can tug at your heartstrings.

The last type of persuasion is kairos. In this form of persuasion the person is building a sense of urgency. This involves creating a short time frame in order to get the person to panic about missing a certain opportunity. You see this all the time on commercials or ads. Limited time only, Black Friday Sale, Fourth of July Savings – these are all popular examples of kairos, or stressing a short time frame to create a sense of urgency.

There are actually many more forms of persuasion, but big names, logos, pathos, and kairos are some of the most common forms seen in advertising.

Informed Opinion

The last concept we must consider while identifying facts and persuasion is the informed opinion. Remember, an opinion is a personal belief or judgment about something. An informed opinion is also a judgment, but it is supported with information or knowledge on the subject. This is also known as an educated belief. Informed opinions rely on evidence and not personal experience.

There is one way to notice the difference between an opinion and an informed opinion. An opinion piece will often present only one side of an issue, which is always the personal belief of the writer. An informed opinion should explain the other side of the issue, since it can only be shaped from complete and accurate information. Thus, the need to hide anything is irrelevant. All facts should be disclosed, and then the opinion is stated based on all the evidence provided.

A great example of writing that involves informed opinions occurs in academic journals. Academic journals are periodicals in which experts in a specific field publish their work and research. The opinions found in these writings are definitely informed. For example, articles in The New England Journal of Medicine are written by experienced doctors. Each has done extensive research and has been highly educated in the field of medicine. These informed opinions are much more trustworthy.

Lesson Summary

Overall in today’s society, it is imperative that you are able to distinguish between facts, persuasion, and informed opinions. Remember, facts are ideas that can be proven. Persuasion occurs when a person is attempting to convince the audience to think a certain way. Some common forms of persuasion include big names, which uses experts or celebrities to support your claim; logos, which uses numbers and data; pathos, which appeals to emotions; and kairos, which creates a sense of urgency.

Last, informed opinions are judgments based on all information from both sides of the argument. This information allows the person to come to an educated decision or belief. If you remember these basic differences, then you will be able to accurately evaluate any type of information.

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