It Has Always Been A Matter Of Trust

Paul Fidalgo

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Whom do you trust? I suppose the default response of a skeptic could be “no one,” at least until particular claims can be verified. It may go without saying, however, that the answer “no one” also applies to conspiracy theorists and others who buy into various forms of pseudoscience. They also probably think that they are ready to trust someone once their claims have been verified. We just have different ideas of what constitutes “verified.”

As we heard at CSICon 2018 from political science professor Joseph Uscinski, conspiracy thinking has become a major component of our public discourse, which is not news. But what might be news is his observation that conspiracy thinking cuts across all demographics: gender, age, class, and so on.

If there’s no demographic delineator, there does seem to be a line drawn between, bluntly, the winners and the losers. Those who feel they are on the outs in terms of power and influence are much more likely to buy into conspiracies than those who are not. When you don’t trust the sincerity or intentions of the people in power, you’re liable to buy into some fairly outlandish claims.

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