We Live In An Era Of Distrust

Picking up on a comment by Walt in which he wrote:

As far as TC’s hideous goals, more frightening to me than a few zealots out to rule the world through inflammatory pitches is the fact that the world has been so easily manipulated to go along with the gag. That’s the deeply depressing and apparently eternal flaw in human nature–the same one that’s led to witch-burning, lynching, gassing, and beheading. Against which one urgently needs to Do Something.

In my reply I suggested that the ‘flaw’ lay in how readily we trusted each other. But I suggested that this trustfulness was what enabled us to form societies and work together in common projects. It was a Good Thing. But also meant that we’d all too readily believe con artists and snake oil salesmen. We are too trusting. Trust really needs to be leavened with a little bit of distrust.

It reminded me that Nigel Farage said that he came from a business environment that operated on trust. And that was the world that Donald Trump came from. But the political world was one which didn’t operate on trust. And Trump, in surrounding himself with people from the business world and the military and his own family, would seem to be surrounding himself with people who he thinks (or hopes) he can trust. If they break that trust, they’ll be ejected. Trump kicked lots of people out of his campaign because they broke trust. Chris Christie, for example. Something to do with a bridge.

Ann Coulter wrote a book late last year entitled In Trump We Trust. And a great many Americans placed their trust in him when they voted for him on November 8 last year. And so far, in his new administration, he does seem to have started doing exactly what he said he’d do. And that will have increased their trust in him. Although I heard Ann Coulter expressing doubt about all the Goldman Sachs people he’d hired. So she’s not really sure whether he actually is trustworthy. But that’s because banks run by  “banksters” are widely distrusted.

The odd thing about Trump is perhaps not so much that so many people have placed their trust in him, but that almost as many others have no trust in him whatsoever. They see him as a clown, an idiot, an incompetent, a loose cannon, and even a new Hitler.

I’m not quite sure how such a polarised range of opinion has arisen. But I suspect that it may simply be that the people who can’t stand Trump are people who trust established authorities and experts, in every field. They trust experienced politicians like Hillary Clinton, who know the ropes, and are A Safe Pair Of Hands. And they trust scientists who tell them that carbon dioxide causes global warming. And doctors who tell them that smoking causes lung cancer. And Donald Trump has no political experience whatsoever, doesn’t know the ropes, and is manifestly not a safe pair of hands. Putting him at the helm of the ship of state is like putting a precocious 8-year-old child in charge. It’s bound to end in disaster.

And the people who have placed their trust in Trump are the people who’ve lost trust in the established authorities and experts, in more or less every field. They’re people who no longer trust the established political class, because they have been betrayed too often. And they’re people who have ceased trusting the mainstream media. And they’re people who have little or no trust in climate scientists (Climategate). And if they’re like me they don’t even trust the doctors who tell them that smoking causes lung cancer (in my case largely because of my encounter, at age 17, with the antismoking Dr W). Very few of them go as far as I do, in distrusting even the space scientists in NASA.  But these distrustful people would like to be able to trust somebody, even if there any number of people they don’t trust. And if they’re going to place their trust in someone, it’s going to be in somebody outside the distrusted political class, and the distrusted media, and all the other groups they don’t trust.  They’re likely to pick an outsider.

mike_penceAnd Donald Trump successfully sold himself to them as exactly that sort of outsider. Here was a highly successful businessman, who’d made a success of more or less everything he’d done.  And he didn’t trust politicians or the MSM or climate scientists either. And his vice-president doesn’t believe the doctors either (something that has attracted hostile comment, see right). He was just like them. Why not give the guy a chance, even if he was rather flamboyant, and shot his mouth off a bit much? None of the alternatives was in the least bit appealing.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters were people who still trusted authorities and experts, and couldn’t understand anyone who didn’t. Donald Trump’s were people who didn’t trust the authorities anymore, and couldn’t understand anyone who did.

If Donald Trump manages to do even half what he said he was going to do, trust in him will rise. And splenetic criticism of him will diminish. And at the moment, the signs are looking pretty good that he’s going to do what he said, regardless of all the banksters and mad dog generals in his administration – although I was a bit disconcerted yesterday when half the State Department resigned, and Trump got into a Twitter spat with the Mexican president. But maybe it’s a good thing that half the State Department walked out? And maybe it’s a good thing that the Mexican president won’t be visiting next week? And why not conduct your diplomacy through Twitter?

I think we’re living in a time of deepening distrust. It’s an era of distrust that follows an era of unquestioning blind trust, when people trusted their politicians and their news media and their scientists and their doctors. The politicians and media and scientists and doctors don’t seem to realise that they’ve lost a lot of the trust that they regard themselves as entitled to by right. It’s going to come as a shock to many of them that they’re going to have a job on their hands to regain the trust they’ve lost. And I don’t think they’re going to manage it without lots of their heads rolling. If the BBC is going to survive, it’ll have to break the stranglehold of the political left on it. And if the BMA is to survive, it’s going to kick out all the healthists and eugenicists. And then maybe, just maybe, trust will begin creeping back.

The deeply depressing and apparently eternal flaw in human nature is maybe simply that that we believe stuff, and when we believe stuff we place our trust in the people who sold us that stuff. And because we don’t really know very much about anything, most of the stuff we believe is just plain wrong. In fact, perhaps all of it is. But at any one time we have to believe something, and trust somebody, because if we didn’t we’d never do anything. And maybe that’s indeed an eternal flaw – the eternal flaw that goes with eternal ignorance.

About Frank Davis

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29 Responses to We Live In An Era Of Distrust

  1. Harleyrider1978 says:

    I had an idiot male nurse about 21 tell me smoking made your blood thin!

    I laughed my ass off at him!

    I said dude tobacco is full of vitamin k which thickens blood and it’s the cure for rat poisoning !

    Or easier to understand Coumadin a blood thinner is rat poison in a controlled amount they up your dose depending on what and how much you smoke it’s the same as eating green leafy veggies it’s loaded with vitamin k!

    Pence is right

    • Jay says:

      Good for you, Harley. A male nurse recently told me that, if I used salt, it ought to be sea salt because “it has less fat in it”!!!

  2. Justin Sanebridge says:

    As a barrister (now retired) I always questioned the views of the so-called experts and doctors and I often shamed them while cross-examining because they were wrong. After all, for hundreds of years the experts believed that malaria was caused by “bad air”, from the Italian for “bad air,” mal’aria. Also arguments such as: so many scientists believe in global warming, everybody believes that smoking causes lung cancer, well, trillions of flies eat shit, so they can’t be wrong,

  3. Roobeedoo2 says:

    With regard to the State Dept resignations, it might not be so much as officials wanting to resign (a letter of resignation is traditionally submitted), so much as the Trump Administration accepting those letters of resignation:


    It does save ‘firing’ them and whatever costs that may be incurred with that course of action.

  4. Dinarzad says:

    Hi, Frank
    Perhaps this celebration has something to do with this perception of reality and paradigm shift.
    On Brazil, the plans of this secret organization are cruel against the people and their prosperity from any point of view, especially from the nineteenth century: separation of Portugal, military coup against the monarchy and foundation of this “republic”, which we see today in newspaper headlines, for ex.

  5. Xopher says:

    I was called into hospital about the possible need for a risky carotid operation. The subject of smoking came up and quite surprisingly he said he had nothing against smoking – What;s the point of being miserable – everybody needs contentment etc..
    Now there’s a man I could trust.

    • I while back i had a lung cancer scare (an ‘ill defined density’ -which sounds like some malformed poltergeist). It wasn’t, they never did find out why i was coughing up black blood (Which i am told is not a sign of good health.)
      But as part of a row of tests I had to have, there was a Spirography-doodah? Basically you blow into a plastic piston thing ’til you vomit and or pass out. I said to the nurse holding the blowing tube (Ooh lala ) “I smoke 3 packs a day on a good day, is there any point in doing this? ”
      To which she replied that I might be surprised by the results. I was. Despite 3 packs (and in my office working days up to 5) a day of the strongest BADDEST unfiltered cigarettes money could buy, or 50g of ‘Silver Slut-the Black pack’ if money had buggered off again, 365×30, my results were bang on ‘a tad under normal -if ‘normal’ is the average level of fitness of an elite soldier.

      • nisakiman says:

        Yes, back in the 70’s I had a few of years of 5 packs a day of camel plains. Dunno how you managed that heroic consumption working in an office. I was driving trucks long distance in Australia, taking speed and awake about 20 (sometimes even more) hours a day, so I had the time to fit those five packs in. You must have been chain smoking from waking to sleep! :)

        I developed a bit of a cough at the time, but to be honest the main problem smoking so many unfiltered cigs gave me was a sore lip – raw sometimes. When I stopped driving and my consumption reduced, the cough went, as did the sore lip.

        • Strangely enough I smoke the most when i’m driving too. Probably because it’s about the only time i get to smoke ‘indoors’ in a warm enclosed space….which in the yUK means i spend almost as much on fags as on diesel :(
          On a ‘good’ run I tend to smoke a pack every 3 hours or so. Next time i get my hands on my beloved semois tobacco i shall try switching over to alternating between pipe and fags when driving…cos i inhale when pipe smoking and it means i can get more nicotine into my caffeine stream quicker.

      • Jay says:

        I’d one of those spirography tests recently at the end of which I was told that my lungs were in better shape than many people 25 years younger (and I’m a heavy smoker by any standard).

        • What interested me the most with the Spirogiro-thingy was the nurses obviously felt unable to simply say “it’s all bollocks, whether your lungs are good or look like swiss cheese, chances are it won’t be anything to do with the amount you smoke”. They were obviously aware of what was ‘fitting & proper ‘ for a ‘Health Care Professional ‘
          They probably faced a disciplinary hearing for NOT castigating me for smoking nor badgering me into ringing the ‘ I am a dirty addict’ ‘helpline’.

      • garyk30 says:

        The ‘experts’ never mention the odds, in any given year, of not dying from lung cancer.

        In the USA, there are a yearly 160,000 lung cancer deaths out of 320 million people.
        That gives odds of 1 per 2,000 for dying and 1,999 per 2,000 for not dying.

        So, in any given year, the average person has a 99.95% probability of not dying from lung cancer.

        All of the squawking and shouting is about who or what gets the blame for the 5/100ths of 1% that do die.

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  7. garyk30 says:

    My trust level varies with the size of the involved group.

    In small numbers, I tend to trust folks; because, it is easier to evaluate their actions.

    Large groups, such as doctors, I have my doubts.

    After all, they do need a great deal of malpractice insurance.

    • Xopher says:

      Smaller groups and individuals are frequently the ones who are doing the job and know what they are talking about but larger groups frequently need some sort of spokesman who is more interested in status than actually doing the job – Ideal for the well read but inexperienced academic wordsmith better known in the media as an ‘expert’.

  8. Clicky says:

    • Jay says:


      • I wish they had introduced that a few years back here, my then teenage kids and their mates would have spent days chain smoking in front of it trying to break the thing, send it into melt down. Even my non-smoking Crippled Son would have started just for the fun, hell even my formerly-rabidly anti-smoking Frau would have gotten in on the action….
        …those long dark Norfolk winter evenings…have to get your LOLS where you can.

  9. slugbop007 says:

    Speaking of statistics, Quebec claims that 10 thousand die of tobacco-related deaths (whatever that means) every years. That comes out to 0.00125 percent of the total population of Quebec, which is around 8 million. Worldwide Tobacco Control zealots claim that 5 million people die every year from smoking. 7 billion divided by 5 million comes out to 0.0007142857 percent of the total world population.  If you divide 5 million from the approximate number of smokers in the world, 1.6 billion, the answer is 0.003125 percent. The Premier of Québec calls smoking un fléau, a scourge. He was our Health Minister ten years ago and it was he that started the whole anti-tobacco crusade rolling in Quebec and Montréal. He’s a Health Nazi and proud of it.


  10. jaxthefirst says:

    Gaining trust is actually quite easy, if you’re basically an honest person. First of all, you say what you genuinely believe and then, if you’re in a position to take action on that opinion, you do it. Similarly, if you’re not basically an honest person, it’s just as easy to lose it – first you say what you think you ought to be saying (regardless of your personal opinions or intentions), and then, if you’re in a position to take action, you go ahead and do whatever your real motivations drive you to do, regardless of what you said previously. And people see that you don’t mean what you said, and realise that perhaps you never did, and trust then evaporates in whatever you might say in the future.

    That’s one reason why people have lost trust in politicians – because they’ve ceased to be honest. And it’s the crucial, fundamental difference between Trump and the likes of Clinton (and all the other well-rehearsed, “established” politicians). Trump may hold some views which a lot of people find unacceptable, and he might believe in following courses of action which a lot of people think are too extreme, too risky or too radical, but he is at least genuine. You know what you’ve got with Trump, whether you love it or hate it. With Clinton it’s another kettle of fish altogether. Who knows what Clinton really thinks about anything? Ask her about any subject on earth – equality, world peace, terrorism, the US economy, smoking, climate change, children – and you’ll hear a slick recitation of all the most politically-acceptable views out there. What you certainly won’t get is the remotest clue what her real views are on these things. And if you have no idea what her real views are, she becomes an unknown quantity in a position of power, because you have no idea what she’ll actually do about those things. And in today’s fast-moving, rather unstable world, people want certainty when electing their leaders, not a village-fete style lucky-dip where you don’t know what you’ll end up with.

    I’d rather have a stand-up, eyeball-to-eyeball argument with Trump about his, frankly, Neanderthal views on women than I would have a conversation with Clinton over her much more reasonable-sounding (but almost certainly insincere) views on the matter, with her nodding and “mmm-ing” and agreeing with everything I said, but with me never knowing whether she actually agreed with me or not. Conversations with such people are a waste of time, because it’s like chasing ghosts – you’re never quite sure exactly what it is you’re debating. Is it an illusion or is it a real opinion? People’s real opinions can be changed, illusions cannot. When people are opaque about their real views, it’s impossible to know for certain what their real intentions are, because their real motivations remain hidden.

    I remember reading a book about body language some years ago, in which the writer stated that it was very easy for people to lie with their words, but almost impossible for them to lie with their gestures without a lot of skill and a lot of effort. Oftentimes, those who have trained themselves to be able to do this, e.g. actors, con-men and, these days, politicians, find that they experience quite significant psychological distress over long periods of time, because it’s sort of like going against our true natures. For human beings, communication of “real stuff” is that important – that’s one reason why our larynxes have developed the way they have (even at the risk, for us, of choking on food, because it had to expand to share a space with our oesophagus to become sophisticated enough). So, for example, if someone says: “Oh, I really love spicy food,” whilst very deliberately shaking their head and grimacing, we’d all know that they were actually saying that they most certainly didn’t like spicy foods at all. In a casual conversation, we’d all recognise this and in an everyday situation these two contradicting messages would be seen as harmless and, probably deliberately, funny. But the point is, it’s the non-verbal message that we’d recognise as the truth, and we’d recognise the words as the lie. The phrase “actions speak louder than words” has developed for good reason; it indicates our innate human instinct to seek out the truth and our similarly inborn awareness of how easy it is for people to lie with their words – well, let’s be honest, we’ve all done it ourselves, haven’t we? “Yes, dear, of course I like your new hairstyle,” or “Oh, I think your new boyfriend is a really nice guy,” etc etc. Easy peasy.

    And in a more serious context, this is what’s happened with politicians. Time and again their words have said one thing, but then their actions have said, often, the precise opposite. Done enough times, over sufficiently long periods of time and, like the little boy who cried “wolf,” trust simply drains away and can only be retrieved by a concerted effort on behalf of the trust-loser which, in the case of politicians, has to involve saying what you really, really mean and then, most importantly of all, taking actions which echo that, even if, as in the case of Trump, this is at the expense of saying and doing things which might make you unpopular with those who disagree with you.

    I trust Trump. I don’t trust him to do things that I’ll always like (his recent comments on torture, for example, I personally believe are simply incorrect), but at least I can trust him to do what he’s said he’s going to do. And there are very, very few politicians that you can say that about today. And, in essence, that’s exactly why he’s the new President, and Clinton isn’t.

  11. waltc says:

    Bah, I always get to this bar at closing time, but in any case, I’ll pull up a stool and let loose. I think you’re really onto something about trust. And belief. It occurs to me that humans are probably programmed to almost reflexively trust and believe (why children accept candy from strangers) and it probably remains our default position. Skepticism, otoh, requires work, and a level of intellect. Downright distrust seems born of experience.

    The premise behind the Big Lie theory was that people would believe it because, being naturally guileless themselves, they wouldn’t believe anyone could fake such a whopper. Then too because, like the emperor’s outfit, it’s easier –as well as safer — to believe what everyone else (seems to) believe (whether or not they do). And finally because accepting that your government is lying through its teeth, creating a false reality, is far too threatening. It means you’re on your own in hostile turf and on unsolid ground. I vaguely recall a line from Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral that’s along the lines of “either the world has gone mad or I have and I pray to God it’s me.” That, for example.

    As for Trump, as you know, based on his character, I was more than skeptical and planned not to vote, but when it got to crunch time, I was so disgusted and distrustful of the alternative and the godawful future it seemed to promise, that I voted R. For the most part now, I’m more or less pleased with what he’s done but cringe at the absolutely crazy things he says and his destructive inability to control his impulses. IOW, do I trust him? No. It’s just that i prefer to distrust someone who might, hit and miss, take the country in the right direction than to distrust someone who’ll definitely take it in the wrong one. If that makes sense.

    • Frank Davis says:

      There’s no closing time in this bar. It’s just that the bartender has a tendency to regularly fall asleep behind the bar.

    • jaxthefirst says:

      Precisely, Walt. I felt pretty sorry for American voters in this last election, because it was very much – as you say – voting for “the lesser of two evils.” Goodness knows, we’ve had our own share on this side of the pond of lousy candidate choices, but I don’t think that we’ve ever had a candidate quite as grim as either of those two. And they were the only two, realistically, that you had! What a rotten choice to have to make. But at least, being – shall we say, err, “plain speaking” – Trump gave some voters something definite to vote against as well as giving others something definite to vote for, although I doubt that his more vociferous opponents will see it that way. Who knows what Clinton had up her sleeve? “More of the same, but worse,” was the most likely outcome. So it’s no wonder you, and many others like you, voted for Mr T! It was a bit the same with our Brexit vote. For many people I know, there was a very strong sense of this being a last-ditch “any port in a storm” scenario which prompted them to tick the Leave box. They were fully aware that this would be a huge sea-change for the country and would necessarily involve the risk that it could all go belly-up in the end – but that the alternative of increasing and unabated EU interference in both our national and personal lives was a far worse prospect.

  12. Lepercolonist says:

    The infomercials that feature a board certified doctor that has just the product you need. He has the cure for baldness,obesity,erectile dysfunction,back pain, etc.,etc. He can ramble on for 30 minutes in medical mumbo-jumbo that sounds like he is an expert. We must listen to this doctor ?
    Very lucrative snake oil salesmen in the modern age. Between 2 A.M and 6 A.M every night on cable television. Despicable.

  13. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Belief systems are not proof systems and obama and Hillarys world was living in a belief world of their own creation they know better as we knew better!

    Tell a lie often enuf and they hope it becomes the belief/ truth and gets the desired effect like controlling all the depths of health and have them endorse your belief/ lie and perpetuate it!

    Trump didn’t buy it and we didn’t either that’s why he won!

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