Challenges to critical thinking PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 March 2018 11:45

By Remedios F. Marmoleño

How did this controversial blogger with a not-so-sterling professional background qualify for appointment as Assistant Secretary  of a government department? The answer is simple:  1) this is a good example of “utang na loob” operating in the political context and 2) the power of communications technology should not be under estimated.

Utang na loob is an important value in our culture and we should not sneer at it. On the other hand we should think about how this “utang” has been paid back – with an appointment to a public office which pays a few pesos more than P100K a month. Should this be allowed? This Asst. Secretary does not even know where Mayon Volcano is. And she continues to use her blog to spread incorrect claims or what we might call “fake news”.

We live in times when technology has enabled people to connect with others,  even the world, more efficiently. Connecting with others efficiently and cheaply  is a good we should be thankful for. I am old enough to remember telegrams and how the telegraph was considered a great invention. But when we compare the telegraph  to the cellphone or email or tweets or FB we realize how things have changed in our time for our good. Communicating with others is now faster, cheaper and more reliable.

The new communications technology is more efficient, that is true, but it has also brought with it some aspects that should make us pause and reflect.

People  are able to send messages faster and to more people  but the speed does  not guarantee that what is sent is valid. Is true. Or influences people to be better people. This is the dilemma that we must face as we keep up with what we see/hear in the media, in our personal emails, in the FB posts that come into our accounts. This is what has led to our time’s new reality, the “fake news”. What is even more disturbing is that we do not as yet have a universally accepted definition of fake news. Is it something that one has just made up to favor a personality but has no basis in fact? Is it the opposite, something that is concocted to smear someone and there is absolutely no basis for what is claimed?  Or the claim that is made on the social media has not yet been validated but those who receive the message may think that it is  correct, is true. An example of this last scenario is the fear of some parents that childhood immunization against certain diseases is the cause of autism.

Communications technology is a double-edged sword. Let us use it with much care.