What is a Fact?

Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” This was said back in 2004, long before fake news and alternative facts.

So what is a fact? One definition is something that is verifiable. I am a trained auditor and therefore know some things about facts. I can tell you how much something cost. The amount on the invoice is a fact. However the reason why that particular item was purchased may not be a fact, it might be an opinion.

How do we verify facts? Some things are easy, how much you weigh or how tall you are can be measured. Wait times in an emergency room can be measured but the fact — the wait time — that is reported has to explain how the measurement took place. We can ask how a fact is being reported has been calculated and we should ask this question.

There should not be alternative facts — there are only alternative opinions.

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