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6. Selecting Good Information: Categorizing Information by Purpose

Thinking about the reason information is produced can also be helpful for determining whether or not it will fit your particular information need. If we categorize this way here are some categories we might consider:


Facts are useful to inform or make an argument

  • The United States was established in 1776.
  • The percentage of Americans in favor of the death penalty has fluctuated significantly over the years, ranging from a low of 42% in 1966, during a revival of the anti-death penalty movement, to a high of 80% in 1994.
  • The pH levels in acids are lower than pH levels in alkalines.
  • Beethoven had a reputation as a virtuoso pianist.


Opinions are useful to sway or make an argument

  • That was a good movie
  • Strawberries taste better blueberries
  • George Clooney is the sexiest actor alive
  • The death penalty is wrong
  • Beethoven's reputation as a virtuoso pianist is overrated.




Objective information reflects a finding, or multiple perspectives

  • "Several studies show that an active lifestyle reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes."
  • "Studies from the Brown University Medical School show that twenty-somethings eat 25 percent more fast-food meals at this age than they did as teenagers."



Subjective information provides one person or organization's perspective or interpretation. Subjective information can be meant to distort or it can reflect educated and informed thinking.

  • "The simple truth is this: As human beings, we were meant to move."
  • "In their thirties, women should stock up on calcium to ensure strong, dense bones and to ward off osteoporosis later in life."

Why Do these Categories Matter?



Pick the best purpose for statements in What's Your Purpose?


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