Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINION -

case, dif­fer­ent ques­tions were asked in 2016 and last year, so a com­par­i­son wouldn’t be mean­ing­ful.

What we got wrong in both years, how­ever, is what’s in­ter­est­ing. It’s usu­ally more pro­duc­tive to think about what we don’t know, rather than worry about what other peo­ple think we don’t know, you know? Asked how many Mus­lims they thought there would be out of ev­ery 100 Filipinos, the av­er­age guess among 2016 re­spon­dents was 23 per­cent. The ac­tual fig­ure was less than six per­cent.

Filipino re­spon­dents also un­der­es­ti­mated just how many con­sid­ered them­selves happy. They were told to guess how many, out of 100, would de­scribe them­selves as “rather happy” or “very happy.”

The av­er­age guess was 58 per­cent, but the true re­sult was much higher at 89 per­cent, based on the World Val­ues Sur­vey. Re­spon­dents in 2016 did get a pub­lic pol­icy ques­tion wrong. Asked what per­cent of the Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct they thought went to health ex­pen­di­tures, the Filipino re­spon­dents’av­er­age an­swer was 24 per­cent.

Too gen­er­ous. The ac­tual share was less than five per­cent, based on World Bank data. What did the re­spon­dents, by now much ma­ligned, get wrong in 2017? Filipinos over­es­ti­mated the num­ber of deaths caused by ter­ror­ists in the 15 years af­ter 9/ 11; the num­ber of girls 15-19 who have given birth; the num­ber of smart phones and Face­book ac­counts Filipinos pos­sessed; and the num­ber of reg­is­tered ve­hi­cles for ev­ery 100 Filipinos.

This last part, I’m guess­ing, is skewed by the amount of traf­fic most of us have to en­dure. Re­spon­dents told Ip­sos Mori’s sur­vey team that they thought 61 per­cent out of ev­ery 100 would have a reg­is­tered ve­hi­cle. The ac­tual num­ber is 41 per­cent.

What’s amus­ing isn’t that we did so poorly on the sur­vey, but that, on so­cial me­dia at least, peo­ple be­gan to project their prej­u­dices on the re­sults. For the record, the sur­vey does not com­pare vari­abl es.

It doesn’t show how the re­spon­dents voted in May 2016 or at­tempt to cor­re­late that with how much they knew about di­a­betes, sui­cide rates, smart phone own­er­ship or deaths caused by ter­ror­ism from 2001 to 2016.

So, re­ally, the ones who as­sumed the re­spon­dents were ei­ther “Duter­tards” or “Yel­low­tards” were the ones who be­trayed their ig­no­rance. There is, how­ever, some­thing we can glean from this whole dis­trac­tion, and it is the re­minder that know­ing what we are ig­no­rant about is where learn­ing can be­gin. Truly in­tel­li­gent peo­ple won’t even bother to tell you how in­tel­li­gent they are; they are more aware than most of us of how much we all can still learn. Even­tu­ally, they die, like all the rest of us. Ip­sos mori, in a dead lan­guage. But while they live, they learn. That is a kind of bliss we can all as­pire for.

— Isolde Amante


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