The Difference Between a Fact and a Factoid

When we think about a piece of information that is indisputably correct or unquestionably right, it is a piece of information that is known to be true or in other words, a fact. Often worded as a statement, a fact can be verified through evidence, experience, or referenced through observation. The term is derived from Latin (factum) which means that something is done or performed or has really occurred.

What Does a Fact Look Like Across Disciplines?

  • In science, a fact is an empirical evidence that is objective and verifiable through repeatable observation and measurement.
  • In law, a fact is a concept or analysis that fundamentally supports the principles of jurisprudence and is made true by well-established standards.
  • In history, unfortunately, facts change over time and reflect the common consensus, meaning that history provides compiled and compounded facts which can muddle objective truth within a historical perspective.
  • In philosophy, a fact can be compounded or it can be contrasted with counterfactual information. It is important to note that there is a logical difference between facts and values and therefore a difference between what ought to be the case and what actually is the case.

A factoid, on the other hand, is a piece of unverified information (or inaccurate information) that has been presented as a fact. A factoid can resemble the appearance of a fact but is not necessarily proven as true. A lot of individuals believe that a factoid means a brief interesting fact, as purported by Grammarist, but this is not the case. Rather, a factoid is presented to an individual with a value of truth, but does not have supporting evidence to go alongside it.

What Forms Can a Factoid Come In?

Generally speaking, a factoid will be presented to an individual in a proposition form, but may also be presented as a theory, as a collection of ideas, or as a hypothesis. The factoid will assume a certain truth but cannot be confirmed as being a half-truth, lie, or full truth without further information.  When we take a look at the modern day world, we see factoids everywhere; they are the memes we repeat, they are the sensational headlines that get re-used over and over, they are the talking points for Facebook discussions, and they are the clickbait of Youtube videos.

Why Are Factoids So Common?

They are common because they can be presented in a variety of ways. It can be given as misinformation like a common understanding of a well-accepted but untrue belief, it can be a statistic (propaganda), it can be disinformation (false information), or it can be counterfeit information.

What Is The Difference Between Fact, Factoid, and Myth?

As we know, a fact is something that can be or has been proved to be undoubtedly true, whereas, a factoid is something that appears to be true but isn’t. A myth, on the other hand, can be or has been proved to be undoubtedly untrue. If you are unsure of whether a piece of information is a fact, a myth, or a factoid, the best line of action would be to verify the credibility of the truth behind it with reputable, academic sources.