Münchhausen-AWilleor “lying like printed” is an old German expression from the time after Gutenberg invented the movable-type printing press in 1450 – it means totally twisting a story. A still oral culture, except for the few monks and merchants who knew how to read and write, distrusted the printed word. After all, it is easier to tell whether a person you know is lying to you or not. The expression seems to have become even more used in the subsequent conflicts between Protestants and Catholics after Luther’s Reformation. Somewhat like some trolls say “BIAS!” today.

Social media today can be compared to the invention of printing in 1450. Wide groups of people who hardly used to read get access to information they can hardly distinguish from nonsense. Daniel Levitin has written a book called A Field Guide to Lies – Critical Thinking in the Information Age (link). Well, seems many Filipinos are not really strong on critical thinking (link) as the culture is more oral and much is believed only when there is a viral video of something. While they often can also be more like the Germans of before, who believed in fairy tales and witches.

Now Joe America’s old article on thinking critically vs. critical thinking has gotten me thinking. The question WHY can be considered offensive in the Philippines for more traditional Filipinos. Meaning as an affront to authority. Old-school teachers and persons of authority expect those who are below them not to ask why but to accept truth as they say it. Somewhat like the Church did not particularly like Galileo questioning established doctrine. So criticism is often not constructive in the Philippines (thinking critically) – or if constructive (critical thinking) is seen as an offense by the more traditional authorities.

Now some could say the Philippines is Asian and Western culture does not apply. But the West also once went through a period where what men in robes or with crowns said was truth and law. Rebels like Luther originally just wanted to point to mistakes in the system. Because the reaction to simple questions was piqued, Protestantism arose. But it was Protestants who conducted the Salem witch hunts in what later became the United States –  not Catholics. Here in Europe, which has had so many wars, many are very wary of those who believe they know the entire truth.

It is a big achievement to know the relevant truth. I don’t really care about Warren. Who? If you don’t know, then don’t bother. I do hope that President Duterte’s Matrix claiming Senator Leila de Lima had somehow gotten money from drugs is not true. I have the feeling it isn’t, because the timing with the Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings and previous statements about “having to destroy her” (link) make me doubtful. Now what if she had stopped the hearing? Would he have done nothing? Is he lying like printed, is she lying like printed, or is everyone lying a little bit?

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 26 August 2016