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Daniel Waxman

How do we decide who to trust when we aren't experts?

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Most people aren't experts in any particular thing, and if they are then their competence is limited to a specific area. Yet we have a need to make decisions related to many subjects we do not fully understand, and in those cases we often rely upon authoritative people and organizations to guide us in that process. But how can we decide who we should trust? Governments have been malevolent and dishonest in the past, and scientists have gotten things tragically wrong. How should we as laymen decide where to place our faith? Because that's what trusting an authority ultimately is, faith.

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If in doubt, don't rely on one person's opinion.
It is easy enough to get multiple opinions to guide your decisions.

This doesn't only apply to medical opinions.

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Daniel, you make a very important point.  Governments, as you say , can be malevolent.  Therefore, politicians are most definitely the last people to trust.

Scientists adhere more closely to facts.  But even scientists change their theories , as the known facts change as time progresses.  

The only people you should really trust are mathematicians. 

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42 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

But even scientists change their theories , as the known facts change as time progresses.  

You act like this is a bad thing. The mind just boggles that you’d rather someone be consistently wrong instead of willing to change their mind as new information becomes available 

I realize also this is just another off topic point

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1 hour ago, Daniel Waxman said:

Because that's what trusting an authority ultimately is, faith.

I disagree. I think it's all about degrees of belief. You can believe something because you have faith in it (gut feeling based on no evidence), or you can hope it's true (wishful thinking), or you can dig down and do some deep research until you finally have an explanation you can trust. An authority should possess the kind of deep knowledge required to build that trust.

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3 hours ago, Daniel Waxman said:

Most people aren't experts in any particular thing, and if they are then their competence is limited to a specific area. Yet we have a need to make decisions related to many subjects we do not fully understand, and in those cases we often rely upon authoritative people and organizations to guide us in that process. But how can we decide who we should trust? Governments have been malevolent and dishonest in the past, and scientists have gotten things tragically wrong. How should we as laymen decide where to place our faith? Because that's what trusting an authority ultimately is, faith.

Trust begins with yourself and your own judgement. Indeed, as newborns, we acquire our measure of trust in ourselves and others by experiences that inform trustworthiness.  For me that experience began with mathematics and how it always provides an unwavering basis for logical thinking.  Specifically, for me, a very basic algebraic equation, (If a=b and b=c, then a=c) has been my unwavering basis in whatever I chose to study. Rational, trustworthy thoughts and perspectives should have a basis in logical thinking and real evidence.  Trust also involves a capacity to consider the logic and evidence that opposing views offer.  Experts may only be knowledgeable to an end supporting a biased perspective of which they might not be aware, which is why opposing views must be part of a rigorous vetting process.  Before I trust, even my own perspective, I weigh all arguments and evidence against that trust.  Whatever and whomever we chose to trust should have a basis in our own investigation of all the available evidence for and against them--in my opinion. 

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Thank you Doc for ignoring the off topic stuff 

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To iNow’s point, modifying your view in light of new evidence is a good thing. 

Perfection is not possible, so you’re left with going with the best option, which science gives you (within its domain of application). You either become informed to the point where you can make your own judgement, or you rely on experts. Or reject informed decisions and go consult your horoscope.

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20 hours ago, Daniel Waxman said:

Most people aren't experts in any particular thing, and if they are then their competence is limited to a specific area. Yet we have a need to make decisions related to many subjects we do not fully understand, and in those cases we often rely upon authoritative people and organizations to guide us in that process. But how can we decide who we should trust? Governments have been malevolent and dishonest in the past, and scientists have gotten things tragically wrong. How should we as laymen decide where to place our faith? Because that's what trusting an authority ultimately is, faith.

this style of writing,I felt myself like reading an abstract of article.

should I reply to the topic, while The thing (now I will say) I do is a common manner that almost everyone does,I think it is not a unique way.

"generally assisstance from people that we knew them and samely those people who had experience in that specific subject  is requested " 

Edited by ahmet

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