Do you know the difference between a fact, inference, opinion, or assumption? They are all kinds of information, but it’s easy to confuse them for each other when you encounter them. Facts are important, no doubt, but is it also possible to rely on the other three? Gwyn Teatro’s “You’re Not The Boss Of Me” blog sheds good insight on the distinction between these four words, and their relationship to critical thinking:
Fact is something known with certainty that can be objectively demonstrated and verified;
Inference is an interpretation of events that provides explanations for situations in which all of the facts are not available or yet to be determined;
Opinion is a subjective statement based on personal beliefs and;
Assumption is a supposition or idea that is unsubstantiated by fact or conscious reasoning.
To the critical thinker, the goal in processing new information is to get as close to fact as possible. Facts are hard evidence. I think it safe to say that the farther away we get from fact, the less reliable will be our evidence. As such, it is an important leadership skill to be able to clearly identify sources of information and put them in the proper perspective. This does not mean that facts are the only basis on which leaders will make a decision. However, it does allow them to place value on the information received and guide the decision-making process accordingly.
Learn more in this post.
We’re all thankful for this guidance Gwyn.