Here is a man versus machine experiment. Which of the following two comments is most informative, engaging, thought-provoking, and helpful?

Posted on March 23, 2023


Comment #1

To say that decay in trust is a major concern would be an obvious understatement. But is this an acute situation tied to global disruptions caused by the pandemic and the war?

Will, for example, trust in our government institutions rebound as it did with the economy in the late 1990s? According to a Pew Research Center study (1958-2022), shortly after 9/11, public trust reached a “three-decade high” but has been on a somewhat steady decline since then.

However, personal one-on-one social mistrust has overtaken general societal distrust in large institutions.

The Wall Street Journal Dec. 2020 article cited another Pew poll reporting that in the early 1970s, “half of Americans said that most people CAN BE trusted.” Today, the figure is “less than one-third.” Even more disconcerting is that the US is the “only established democracy to see a major decline in social trust.”

Given these findings, the real question is this: to what degree can social mistrust rebound, especially given the trend that “trust declines sharply from generation to generation.” And, if it can’t rebound, what are the consequences of trust issues on individuals and, ultimately, overall society?

Comment #2

Declining trust in facts and institutions is a significant problem for society. When people lose trust in institutions like government, media, and science, it becomes harder to make informed decisions and solve complex problems.

Here are some reasons why declining trust in facts and institutions is a problem:

  1. It undermines democracy: In a democratic society, trust in institutions is essential. If people do not trust the government or the media, they may not participate in the democratic process, and decision-making becomes more challenging.
  2. It makes it harder to address complex problems: Many of the problems facing society today, such as climate change, require a collective effort to solve. When people do not trust institutions like science or academia, it becomes harder to build consensus and take action on these issues.
  3. It increases polarization: When people do not trust institutions, they are more likely to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs. This can lead to greater polarization and make it harder to have productive conversations across different groups.
  4. It can lead to misinformation and conspiracy theories: When people do not trust mainstream institutions, they may turn to alternative sources of information, some of which may be unreliable or even intentionally misleading. This can lead to the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Overall, declining trust in facts and institutions is a problem for society because it undermines democracy, makes it harder to address complex problems, increases polarization, and can lead to the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories. It is important to work towards rebuilding trust in institutions and promoting evidence-based decision-making.

Posted in: Commentary