By Joshua Corcuera
Most people want to know the truth but, once they hear it, the very same people would go nuts after being enlightened. It came to my mind, out of a sudden, a certain scene in the 2018 film Goyo ang Batang Heneral. A scene where Mabini asked Aguinaldo, “Kaya na ba ng Pilipino na marinig ang katotohanan nang hindi mapipikon?”
Many still cannot.
In an opinion piece for the Daily Guardian last September 29, 2020, entitled “Can a Filipino stand the truth without feeling resentment?” I explored the same inquiry. In the same article, I wrote this in response to the question I raised:
Some Filipinos tend to trivialize the opinions [and facts said] of those who they disagree with, even if such are based on truthful facts supported by solid and compelling evidence. For instance, some people supporting a politician would defend the person they support even if it has been proven by experts and judged by courts of justice that such politician is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of serious crimes…
In effect, facts are basically ignored or outright rejected merely because it goes against their beliefs. It must be remembered that the truth is objective and must be accepted by all, regardless how sweet or bitter they may be. If we resort to a society where truth is subjective, chaos is virtually certain to ensue. Unfortunately, we live in a society where disinformation is pervasive and lies, at certain times, prevail over facts. Part of the reason is the lack of critical thinking of some people. Why is there lack of critical thinking you may ask? Because some people immediately fall for what they see or hear online, without scrutinizing further.
As someone taking a degree in accountancy, auditing is a major subject—as a matter of fact it is one of the six board exam subjects. Students in the degree program I take are taught of the concept of professional skepticism in auditing—someone who constantly questions what they see. In the words of some authors in auditing theory, someone with a questioning mind. Simply because assertions are presented by the client mean they are legitimate, even if there is corresponding evidence. Additional procedures would be then carried out to verify the evidence presented to reach, ultimately, with an appropriate audit opinion.
In real life, this concept in auditing can also be applied. If you are buying something, say a food in the market, you certainly have to look whether or not it is fresh—unless you want to consume spoiled food. The same is true as far as information is concerned, you must scrutinize further whether the information you heard is true or false by examining the evidence available. Otherwise, you may be fooled by people who deceived you for their own gain. Basically, it falls down to this: do not be gullible, or in Filipino, huwag maging uto-uto. The consequences of lacking critical thinking and immediately believing what one sees could be detrimental to society as a whole, not only to oneself.
In the age of the internet, where reliable information can actually be made available, it is a choice to be miseducated. It is a choice to believe in preposterous claims such as the Earth is flat when in fact it is not. Or the false claim that vaccines do not work, when in fact they helped avoid things from getting worse. Or that politician X would save our nation, when in reality politician X cannot even defend himself, how much more the nation?
The consequences of ignoring the truth, just because it may not sound good, are detrimental to the growth of our society. It is essential to have an open mind, one that questions, one that scrutinizes. Hindi ‘yung oo lang nang oo.