No matter who you are, it is important to know and acknowledge the truth about our nation’s past. We learn history because history doesn’t stay behind us; it is a tool to help us understand the present, avoid mistakes and develop a path for a peaceful, inclusive and sustainable future for all, leaving no one behind. History teaches us why societies thrive while others fail. It shows us facts about wars. It tells us stories of how people changed nations for the better.
Now, more than ever, we need to fight for our history. We need to fight the prevalence of misinformation and disinformation to preserve the Philippines’ long struggle to achieve freedom.
Misinformation refers to the spread of false information regardless of the intent, while disinformation intends to deceive or mislead. Both of these involve sharing unverified information. With 92 million social media users in the Philippines as of January 2022, that is 82.4% of the entire population. Social media is a force to be reckoned with in terms of producing and consuming information. In addition, according to the 2019 National ICT Household Survey of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, 24% of households have communal cellphones and 23.8% have communal computers. With those figures, one can say that social media has the power to influence public opinion and twist the truth in a manner that is favorable to a number of people.
Before finding out how to counter fake news, we need to first understand why some people still refuse to accept the truth despite being presented with facts. It’s simple: humans are just wired to dismiss facts that do not fit their narrative, their worldview.
And then there is also “motivated reasoning.” It is what social scientists call the process of deciding what evidence to accept based on the conclusion one prefers, meaning those decisions have an intended purpose. And the denial of reality does not always stem from ignorance. We encounter a lot of well-educated people who are victims of misinformation and disinformation.
How do we filter our sources and learn how to welcome facts, even those that defy our own personal biases? Here are some tips:
Never share anything without fact checking. People rely on information that is directly available to them without being fully aware of the bigger picture. People tend to construct realities based on the snippets of stories they know. Part of fact checking is acknowledging cognitive biases that cause us to overlook relevant facts.
Trust only credible and legitimate sources/references. Social media platforms are not reliable sources of factual information. A source must be free from bias, evidence-based and is produced by a trustworthy author or organization.
Join public forums and watch debates. Public forums and debates are a great way to widen your insight while hearing stories from different people coming from different sectors of society. Being able to act as a “watcher” increases your ability to weigh the truth based on experiences and evidence.
Engage in healthy, open-minded and intelligent conversations. Don’t engage with online trolls. Instead, have healthy, open-minded and intelligent conversations. Being surrounded by people eager to learn and accept new information, even information that disagrees with yours, helps develop your intellectual humility.
Be okay with being corrected. Being wrong can be meaningful in sparking a dialogue. Instead of being overly defensive, try asking questions. Asking questions should be automatic when we don’t know something.
With the impending administration set to lead the Philippines, preserving our nation’s history is of utmost priority. Be an agent for truth. Learn the truth. Spread the truth.
To help the cause, please donate at https://jazzypay.com/merchant/BID-9886889. (Story/Photos by: Christine Sanchez)