Systems of Trust

November 17 2020

So, a friend of mine shared a video with me, where a Trump-positive speaker was sharing beliefs about certain voting machines having evidence of fraud. We are not in the world where this is discussed, and in my world these claims are being refuted all over the place, but inasmuch as we were sharing our ideas on a channel with bipartisan audience, I don’t want to get into that right now. Instead, I wanted to share my first reactions to the video—or shall we say—the appearance of that video, in my world. Here goes…

I only began to watch the first part, I would not be averse to watching more. But here is what it got me thinking about.

Chris Hayes said something very smart the other day: each of us constructs our model of reality based on networks of trust. When I read in the New York Times that such-and-such happened, I believe they are telling the truth.

I cannot go out and check everything for myself, so these networks of trust are essential to each person. In caveman times we did not need this in quite the same way, as we do now.

So I have heard a little about conspiracy theories about that voting machine company on my left-wing media wherever that was, and it gave me a vague feeling like, “oh, well—they are making up a lot about this, and my sources do not say I should take this seriously.” —Not to the level where I have dug into it mind you, but to the level where I have a vague feeling like, oh I probably don’t have to worry about that one.

But of course, what any of us who are curious to find truth now, we are experiencing constantly the challenge to our systems of trust. It is disquieting, as Clare expressed it, in her way of how she expressed that feeling—right?

And how it feels, is not like there are infinite truth network bubbles, but that there are, sort of TWO truth network bubbles. Obviously with different flavors, but the two-ness of it is of course a much bigger quality than the variety of any sub-variations!!

It’s like, this guy is living in a whole different world, with virtually all different trust networks, at some level. And that is disquieting, for all of us, as we have come to have these more and more self-contained bubbles!

Now. If I want to investigate this specific set of claims, I can do so—and rely on much less of any trust networks, and more on original information, and get to feeling much closer to the truth of what might be going on here, in this specific instance. And… it is exhausting! I have done it with anti-maskers earlier in the pandemic, and it takes up a lot of cycles. And so, I just sorta… stopped.

But … we could do this. We could pick a thing, such as this one, and actually do this. I believe we have the training, and it could be an interesting thing!

Now this of course highlights one of the key features of human consciousness, doesn’t it!? That trust networks are a form of shorthand our brains can use to save time, because we really can’t do super-rational thinking about every single thing, every single moment, because we would, like, die, of exhaustion, or something!! 😪 It is the same reason we make snap judgements about people… political parties… etc.

And it speaks to a related phenomenon, of creating a coherent belief structure to give form to a world that is simply too hard to understand. Whether it’s the idea that the thunder god is angry because it’s raining, or that Joe Biden will take care of us, or Trump will do better for the working woman, or whatever, it is a cluster of assumption systems / symbol systems / and somehow, it makes us feel safe enough to get through our days.

In a certain sense, the current clash of belief systems within a country, is an interesting opportunity to notice how we all do live within these belief systems, and kinda can’t help it, but possibly see some way where our coming to an understanding of this, might shed some good “meta” light on what it is to be human, and I don’t know, we might all learn some skills to circumnavigate these realities for ourselves.

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© Alexander Feller 2018