Prof. Joel Sagut presents his talk during the National Advocacy Conference 2022 on Oct. 14. (Screenshot from the event)

FILIPINOS must learn how to acknowledge opinions other than their own to establish a social sphere where healthy confrontation is promoted, the director of the UST Center for Theology, Religious Studies, and Ethics said during the National Advocacy Conference 2022 on Oct. 14.

According to Prof. Joel Sagut, the inability to healthily contend with each other could prevent Filipinos from discovering the truth.

“Even Pope Francis actually called for that accommodation of encounters or confrontations with opinions other than our own. Fake news thrives when we become too partisan, and this is especially relevant for our political views,” Sagut said in his talk.

Sagut said that by developing the habit of consulting an opposing opinion, Filipinos could verify the truthfulness of their views.

“We could hardly discern if we are too focused on our own desires and interests. And so we are called to learn how to distance ourselves from the immediacy of those passions,” Sagut said.

“Pope Francis even reminds us that the lack of healthy confrontation of ideas risks turning people into unwilling accomplices in spreading bias and baseless ideas. In short, virtue formation is an important advocacy,” he added.

To avoid falling for fake news, Sagut said Filipinos should be attentive to accuracy and the sources of the information they believe in.

“It is the lack of attention to accuracy that is responsible for the proliferation of fake news, and this is conditioned especially by elite messaging, illusory truth effect and confirmation bias,” he said.

The professor also warned against propaganda, which he said was the most dangerous form of fake news.

“It could potentially rob a population of informed choices, especially in the more important things and events in our life as a community like the elections,” he said.

This year’s National Advocacy Conference was held under the theme, “Journeying Together in the Pursuit of Truth Amid the Challenges of Fake News.”

The latest installation of the conference was held in response to Pope Francis’ invitation to become a synodal Church and to generate meaningful conversations on how the Filipino youth could be guided in the era of fake news. A.B. Maestrado with reports from Allyssa Mae C. Cruz


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