Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/Examples

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This is a stab at creating an example section to help distinguish neutral vs non-neutral writing. I created it because the actual "Neutral Point of View" page now has an awful lot of commentary on it and it is getting difficult to get much guidance. I have tried to glean my examples on the basis of the majority opinion on that page. Feel free to dissent.

I (MB) am cutting the debate off this page and moving it here. Links have been provided where necessary.

Facts vs Opinion

In general, facts are items that are not known to be disputed at all by otherwise reasonable people [citation needed].

Easy ones – The following statements are legitimate statements of fact (or would be if I hadn't made them up):

  • The U. S. Census Bureau reported the population of Springfield, MA as 152,082 in the year 2000 census.
  • Dogs have the scientific name Canis familiaris L. 1758.
  • In the 2nd century A.D., Ptolemy wrote a statement which can be translated into English as: "Now with this done, if one should next take up the question of the earth's position, the observed appearances with respect to it could only be understood if we put it in the middle of the heavens as the centre of the sphere."
  • Subject to the influence of other bodies in the Solar System, the Earth and the Sun orbit their common center of mass. This means that, to a good approximation, the Earth goes around the Sun. (Hey this one is true... and no flat-earth discussions now, please)

More difficult examples:

  • Abortion is wrongopinion, not a fact.
    .
  • The pro-life movement holds that abortion is wrong, or occasionally that it is only justified in certain special casesfact, not an opinion.
  • God/spiritual energy/ (insert your pet concept here) does/does not exist.opinion, not a fact.
    .
  • Nietzsche spent much of his life arguing (among other things) that God does not existfact, not an opinion.

Even more difficult example:

  • Scientologists hold the belief that living cells have a memory. This is based on an erroneous interpretation of the work of Crick and Watson in 1955.opinion, not a fact.
  • Scientologists hold the belief that living cells have a memory. This is based on an interpretation of the work of Crick and Watson in 1955. This interpretation has been heavily criticized by notable cell-biologists such as (whoever) ...fact, not an opinion.

(Oh, and I have no idea if the thing about Scientologists and Crick and Watson is true or not, just go with it for now).

  • Anti-Americanism exists in the world. This is due to a number of serious errors in American foreign policy, particularly with regard to Palestine. – obviously biased, but try this next one...
  • Anti-Americanism exists in the world. This is due to a number of perceived serious errors in American foreign policy... – this is STILL biased. Rephrase it as "The Society of Pole Sitters attributes this to..." or list all of the other major possible cause(s).
  • Anti-Americanism doesn't exist because we can't decide how to explain it...

If you're stuck: Go with more detail rather than less. Do not present any viewpoint as "right". Your indecisiveness will be sorted out by the other editors, have no concerns about that.

What to do if you believe something is "ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, dammit!" You'll be pleased to know there is a forum for your profound insights and wisdom.

Test how you are doing...

  • Darwin's theory of natural selection is the best available explanation of the diversity of life we see today. – acceptable or not? (For discussion, see Examples debate Topic 1)
  • Darwin's theory of natural selection is the most widely accepted scientific explanation of the diversity of life we see today. – acceptable or not? (For discussion, see Examples debate Topic 2)

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