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Having trust in our fellow humans is essential to creating a culture of happiness. Creating a universal in-group is necessary to allow easy trust in a diverse, multicultural, connected world.

Trust in Institutions

Trust in institutions is a necessary prerequisite to progress in modern society. Since nobody can have true expertise in more than a few of the thousands of technical disciplines that currently exist, it is necessary to have authorities that can be trusted to deliver accurate information and recommend best practices to the people.

The erosion of this trust in recent years has resulted in increased political polarization, the proliferation of misinformation and conspiracy theories, contrarianism, pseudoscience and grift. Social media platforms have accelerated this process by allowing the promotion of this information to a global audience, where in the past there would be editors, producers, and fact checkers that would prevent these corrosive ideas from reaching a wide audience.

Trust in the Process

If we are not able to agree on basic truths about reality, then having a discourse based on fundamentally different assumptions is fruitless. This is part of why political polarization is such an intractable problem in the age of social media information bubbles.

In these cases, it is necessary to take a step back and find agreement on the process for determining truth. What counts as evidence? How does logic work? How can we tell if we are thinking critically or being contrarian?

Belief in misinformation requires falling for one or more propaganda techniques or logical fallacies. By refocusing the conversation on how to identify these mistakes, it is possible for them to self-correct, where focusing on the false beliefs will only elicit contradiction. If we can start by agreeing on what constitutes evidence, science, and logic, then there is a possibility that this foundation can be used to identify beliefs that contradict them.

Trust in the Goal

Another way to restore trust in an era of polarization is to refocus on our shared goals. What are we trying to accomplish with policy? What kind of society are we trying to create?

So much political debate revolves around shot-term policy proposals and wedge issues like abortion. The fact that we differ on policy implies that we have different goals, but is that really the case? Or are both sides trying to realize similar goals with different approaches?

Taking a step back focus on our goals can reveal common ground that can be built on. The Quality of life versus quantity of life goes into detail about the fundamental goals that generate our views on many divisive issues.

We can also agree on broad goals for the future of society, such as eliminating poverty and increased leisure time. People of any political persuasion agree that these goals should be pursued, they simply differ on the methods. These methods are based on ideology, not best practices. Where these differ, we can point to our shared trust in evidence as a reason to choose best practices over ideology to achieve our shared goals.

Personal Trust

Personal trust is an essential ingredient to any love relationship, and relationships of any kind. So don't be a liar.

Restoring Trust

Videos offering ideas for how to restore trust in our institutions.

How to build (and rebuild) trust

These are two interviews of the same person, a shorter one and a longer, more in-depth version.

Restoring Trust in American Institutions with Yuval Levin

How to Restore Trust in America’s Institutions

Drake - Trust Issues