Don't State Your Opinions as Facts When in Fact They Aren’t

Bob Bly

Recently, I sent an email marketing message to my list offering one of my audio home-study programs.

BP, a subscriber of mine whom I like and respect, was highly critical of this offer.

In BP's opinion, "An audio course is reminiscent of platform shoes, the IBM Personal Computer, and when the Bee Gees were all living" — implying that audio products are somehow old school and antiquated.

A simple Google search would in an instant show BP that his claim of audio being old hat is completely wrong.

According to the Audio Publishers Association (APA), audiobook sales in 2015 totaled more than $1.77 billion, up nearly 21% over 2014.

Also in 2015, 9,630 more audiobook titles were published than in the previous year — bringing the number of audiobooks published in 2015 up to 35,574.

And according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, consumers listened to an average of 5.8 audiobooks for the entire year of 2015. Midway through 2016, that number was already at 6.7, and expected to reach as high as 7.5 by year’s end.

I can also speak a bit from personal experience, not just third-party Google research.

In my tiny online business, CTC Publishing, we have grossed hundreds of thousands of dollars selling how-to information on audio.

The takeaways from BP's brash, subjective, and uninformed claim of audio information obsolescence:

  1. Google makes it so quick and easy to do some research, you are being foolish if you do not take a few minutes to get the facts before writing or speaking on a topic.
  2. Don't give subjective opinions on topics that have factual and undisputable answers. Want to debate with your friends about whether Trump will be a good president? Feel free.

    Want to convince me that TV psychic Theresa Caputo can speak to the dead? That's a tougher position to defend, given there is no scientific evidence supporting the existence of the afterlife.

  3. Don't defend so many of your positions so rapidly and vehemently. We are not always right. We are often wrong. That includes me. And you.

In his best-selling Spencer novels, the late Robert B. Parker said of Spencer's sidekick Hawk: "Hawk always knows what he is talking about. Not because he knows everything. But because he only talks about things he knows."

My version: Don't proclaim your opinions to be facts unless your certainty is 99.7% or higher. That purple is a color is a fact. That purple rugs are beautiful is an opinion.

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Published: February 16, 2017

4 Responses to “Don't State Your Opinions as Facts When in Fact They Aren’t”

  1. I own, run and report for an online newspaper, which has as its mission to separate facts from opinion. Because my initials are MAM, I use Just the Facts, MAM, as a conversation starter. :-)


  2. I'm not exactly sure what I am commenting about so I will begin with Bob. The single biggest issue with media today is the proclivity to state opinion as fact. A former broadcast news producer, I have some insight into this unproductive trend. I am also an avid audio book listener. This is my chosen source of entertainment and I read probably 50 or more audio books every year. As for the new program offered by AWAI, I only wish I had the $$$ to invest. The information provided and programs offered all appear to be excellent but won't work for my profile as someone who is running out of retirement income before I even reach retirement age. Oops.

    Guest (Barbara)

  3. In reference to the assay by Bob Bly concerning the criticism of audio materials.
    There are certain consumers who choose audio sources, often times, before written. I believe it's because a lot of information can be covered and reviewed quickly. Already this year I have listened to four audio books and reviewed six audio workshops. Therefore I am in total agreement with Mr. Bly. The audio entity, whether home study materials or audio books, still remain very relevant and useful today.

    Guest (Zaynah Watson)

  4. Timeless yet so timely. I have just written an articled posted on LinkedIn entitled "Facts, Alternative Facts and Credibility."

    It addresses how important it is as a professional to maintain your credibility. To avoid using alternative facts and data manipulation as a shortcut.

    Tony B

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