Anger over Kerry Flip Flop Page
- Wikipedia is devoted to stating facts and only facts. Where we might want to state opinions, we convert that opinion into a fact by attributing the opinion to someone. So, rather than asserting, "The Beatles was the greatest band", we can say, "Most Americans believe that the Beatles was the greatest band," which is a fact verifiable by survey results, or "The Beatles had many songs that made the Billboard Hot 100," which is also fact. In the first instance we assert an opinion; in the second and third instances we "convert" that opinion into fact by attributing it to someone. We realize that this does not IN FACT convert that opinion TO a fact, it just says it is a FACT that: "this person holds that opinion."
- It's important to note this formulation is substantially different from the "some people believe..." formulation popular in political debates. The reference requires an identifiable and subjectively quantifiable population.
- In presenting an opinion, moreover, it is important that we bear in mind that there are sometimes even disagreements about how opinions are best stated; sometimes, it will be necessary to qualify the description of an opinion or to present several formulations, simply to arrive at an solution that fairly represents all the leading views of the situation. (Theological and philosophical debates are particularly hard to frame in a nonbiased way; this very page bears that out, as it posed in a previous incarnation as an example of an opinion, "God exists".)
- But it's not enough, to express the Wikipedia nonbias policy, just to say that we should state facts and not opinions. When asserting a fact about an opinion, it is important also to assert facts about competing opinions, and to do so without implying that any one of the opinions is correct. It's also generally important to give the facts about the reasons behind the views, and to make it clear who holds them. (It's often best to cite a prominent representative of the view.)
This is what I tried to do, take a current event people are interested in and present both sides of the argument using verifiable facts, quotes, and both viewpoints. I felt like people have a right to know what both sides are claiming, why they claim that, and whether or not outside information can be found to substantiate their reports. My goal was transparency and accuracy, which seem in short supply on both sides of this particular political aisle. I honestly feel that if many people hadn't gotten angry right off the bat and had just added additional information it would have rounded out quickly and been a nice peice that would be helpful to people trying to sort out what is really happening. Rbsteffes 16:38, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)