By Katarzyna Mortoń
The reality plot is thickening. The number of interactions and interdependencies between social, political and economical strata of the society is growing. Those residing on different continents, regions and countries are communicating more and more in a much faster manner. We are getting to know each other, exchanging information and opinion, learning each other’s cultural and personal models. Events taking place on one side of the world affect what happens on the other. Multilateralism is one of the main forms of political interdependency. It unites The European Union but also thousands of laws, agreements, regulations and procedures.
In the centre of this network of relationships, connections and mutual dependencies is a human being. How they understand the reality depends very much on their ability to analyse information and data. Recognising which information is truthful and which false is not an easy task for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it is complicated by the aforementioned amount of information available. Secondly, the fast pace of life, where time to think and reflect is limited, results in the thought process being continually subjected to new stimuli that are difficult to separate from.
Thirdly, nowadays, one is expected to have an ‘individualistic’, self-focused attitude. It is the individual’s responsibility to understand the world. This pressure is an emotional challenge – if you do not understand it, you have ‘lost’’. The neo-capitalist reality creates an atmosphere of continuous rivalry, even in the process of analysing data.
Moreover, the number of communication channels as well as ways of communicating are constantly increasing. Social media and the Internet had revolutionised communications on a global scale. Today, in addition to the traditional media (television, radio and press) we obtain information from advertisements on Facebook or post that are shared by our friends. Consciously or subconsciously we absorb all the data that accumulates in the individual. All of this dependant on subjective perception of the importance or the nature of particular topics or events.
It is Facebook that tells us what is significant. It is under its influence we change our profile photo to a French flag after the terrorist attacks in Paris but we do not do the same for Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, where bombings are commonplace.
All this complexity condensed to unbelieveable degree does not go hand in hand with the change in the direction and method of education. The learning process should equip an individual with the tools and awareness with which one will be able to select information more efficiently and effectively.
Dishonesty has a new face today. It is not only a lie, which can easily break through informational chaos. It is also unverified information, accompanied by a lack of understanding that the information often comes from inaccurately or disproportionately presented sources in relation to the facts, the lack of awareness that its verification – seeing the “other side of the coin” – is essential to our understanding of the reality around us.
As long as critical thinking and basic skills of verifying obtained data are not the basis of education, as long populism and emotions will rule the public and political sphere, and not only in Poland.
Why are we here?
It is obvious! We want to present our views, we want to be heard, we want to debate. We want, together with other people, who are close to Polish culture, to diagnose its condition and to create a vision for the future – we do not need to convince anyone that such vision is necessary.
At present, there are two “tribes” of Poles. “Tribes” that do not read the same newspapers, do not watch the same films, have different views on both our history and on current affairs. “Tribes” that cannot talk to each other. We hope, however, that they want to but there is something that prevents them from it. That something is falsehood and it is why falsehood has become a topic on the table.
We invited well-known and respected experts to discuss the falsehood. Some of them agreed to take part in the panel discussion in person, some of them sent their comments in writing. The list of the panelists and submitted comments can be found in the conference pack. I encourage you to read through them before the debate and I welcome an open and rational discussion during the debate.
The debate was organised by the KOD Mazowsze Education section, which brings together people devoted to work for civic society. If you are interested to find out more about our ethos and values, please read our Manifesto (Deklaracja Programowa), also included the conference pack. I would like to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to organise this debate in only a few weeks time.
On behalf of the KOD Mazowsze Education section and myself, I dedicate this debate in memory of Dr Elżbieta Maria Kauer-Bugajna, without whom this debate would not take place. Unfortunately, Dr Elżbieta M. Kauer- Bugajna passed away on 20 September this year. May she rest in peace.