Pew Research Quiz
The Pew Research organization created this short quiz that reveals how well you can discern facts from opinions. Here’s their challenge: Test your ability to classify 10 news statements as either factual or opinion. Then see how you did in comparison with a nationally representative group of 5,035 randomly selected U.S. adults surveyed online between February 22 and March 4, 2018.
Pew’s instructions for taking the quiz:
Regardless of how knowledgeable you are about each topic, would you consider each statement to be a factual statement (whether you think it is accurate or not) or an opinion statement (whether you agree with it or not)?
The quiz takes about two minutes. I urge you to stop now and take it.
PAUSE, PAUSE, PAUSE…TAKE THE QUIZ…
So, how did you do? What do you think is the main point? Certainly, the lower your ability to discern fact from opinion the more you’re playing the victim to your mind’s tendencies. That’s one important aspect of the quiz. But I think there’s a deeper lesson here. Any idea what it is? I urge you to stop now and reflect on that.
PAUSE, PAUSE, PAUSE…REFLECT FOR A FEW MOMENTS…
From a mental training perspective, you certainly need to become more acutely aware of the mind’s limiting tendencies. You can’t act effectively on a lie. Opinions in many ways are lies. You need to see reality as factual as possible. That’s the first lesson.
Next, how did you take the quiz? Did you rush it or take time to think through each statement? In other words, did you take time to slow down and observe how the mind might want to answer each statement? Answering quickly can tend toward opinion, whereas slowing down can tend toward fact. Slowing down helps you notice your thoughts more. That helps you discern between awareness and thoughts, between facts and opinions.
Finally, did you pause as I urged you to do…to take the quiz and to reflect on how you took it? This is a real time experiment into the nature of your own mind. If you want to become more mentally fit, then you must develop an appropriate relationship with the mind. A foundational tool for doing that is your ability to slow down so you can observe and discern what’s happening up there in your head. So, slow down, slow down. There’s no need to rush, in taking this quiz, in climbing, or in life. Don’t rush. All you’ll find if you rush through life is death. I’d venture that you don’t want to rush toward that ultimate fate we all share.