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Younger Americans less trusting of other people, institutions (pewresearch.org)
30 points by hirundo 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments
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We've had 20 years of "Please report any unattended luggage", "If you see something, say something", "Watch out for suspicious people", bankers blowing up the economy and getting bailed out for it, non-stop wars, governments spying on their own people, companies selling our personal data, identity theft, unfunded pensions, democratizing technologies that came to naught, social movements that came to naught, and fake news. What the hell did they expect was gonna happen?

They also are not indoctrinated into some of the big myths. Ask a young person what this is: http://s3.amazonaws.com/nasathermalimages/public/video/prete...

(win users might need VLC from videolan.org)


To what extent did people and institutions deserve our trust?

Speaking as a younger American, I was raised with a lot of bad science, corporate bullshit, and Government subsidized propaganda. The Internet just amplified contrarian voices and revealed certain truths for everybody to see. Today I feel wary, hopeful, and motivated to make it better.


Good attitude.

What I don't like is Adults telling kids, it's all on them to make things better. It's not on them. These Adults are the kind who don't know what else to do, and no one should be paying attention to them.


It kind of is on us, in the sense that many people currently age 40+ are not part of the solution and are not going to be.

Learning takes time. Most 5th graders have access to all the info 10th graders have, that doesn't mean they are ready to solve 10th grade problems.

> I was raised with a lot of bad science

What are some examples of this bad science?


The food pyramid pushed in all the elementary/middle schools comes to mind

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_pyramid_(nutrition)#Contr...


The lipid hypothesis, the replication crisis, frontal lobotomies ...

anything in the last hundreds years related to pop sci, nutrition, or health advice.

Okay, okay, okay, hold on.

These same people who distrust the average american and institutions, according to the chart, are more likely to trust politicians and business leaders. Literally the two fields that are known to produce lying, self serving assholes (I have a small business, I'm in that group).

No, young Americans don't have a trust issue, they have a wisdom issue. What's next, they decide that voting rights should only be given to the clergy and nobles because they know better than the every day person?

Politicians have historically been know to be dishonest, self serving, lazy bastards since Socrates time. Read Plato's the Republic. Or hell Caesar and the other two in the triumphant.

Do I need to prove business leaders? Really? Do I? And I'm one of them... eh, minus the leader part. But I wont step forward as a saint anytime soon. Businesses are inherently self serving and will gladly lie to achieve that. Let's see, wall street in general, Theranos, Apple's sweat shop practices, well any big tech firm when it comes to privacy.

COME ON! Am I taking crazy pills? Maybe it's TRUE. Democracy is a bad idea. The average person is an idiot and shouldn't have the right to govern themselves. At least a dog eventually bites you back if you beat 'em too many times. It seems like the average 30 year old American prefers to be lied to and will gladly follow and lie to themselves as long as they have a pretty new phone.


>These same people who distrust the average american and institutions, according to the chart, are more likely to trust politicians and business leaders. Literally the two fields that are known to produce lying, self serving assholes (I have a small business, I'm in that group).

Just the opposite. The graphs are kind of swapped in the direction that means "more trusting". The first one is proportion of people who agree with the statements (which are based on distrust) so right is less trusting. The second one is proportion of people who have a great or fair amount of confidence in that group, so right is more trusting.


I was born in the mid 1980s and pretty much 90% of the junk that was taught to me turned out to be false. It's part of why it took me so long to accept global warming. Just nothing was credible.

* Food Pyramid

* Sex "Education"

* Paper Products come from the rainforest being cut down

* Just get any degree in college and you can get a job

* Don't do well in High School and you will be doomed for life.

* Go to a 4-Year university

* There are tons of scholarships if you are smart

* Recycling is good for the environment (Instead they just shipped it to China)

* ...and more ad-nausium


Age between 25-28, exact date I won't share to maintain a bit of privacy through obscurity.

I can definitely think of a few reasons why Americans 18-29 are less trusting overall. I would pin it to a several factors. I think the people who experienced the mid 2000s recession during their formative years are less confident in government's ability to solve problems and the stability of government services. Witnessing a significant number of government agencies downsizing (read: the government laying people off), and reduced services will do that. I, and many of my friends are believe that social security will be gone or effectively gone by the time we retire (this is also probably a factor in why concern for the elder is reduced). Restricted job opportunity instills a more competitive approach to life, and higher prioritization of one's own security before others. Less concern for elders is a secondary effect of this.

Part of me wonder whether this is just as shifting in the baseline expectation of trustworthiness. For example, "most of the time, people just look after themselves" is something I'd not only agree with, but I'd also question why it's being portrayed as demonstrating a lack of trust. A lot of our social mechanisms operate off the assumption that people are mostly self interested, and it works because most people are self interested. I'd not only openly say that I mostly look after myself, I'd tell other people to look after themselves first and foremost - taking care of others is a secondary goal that comes after securing your own wellbeing.

Similarly, I think we don't really trust people as much because we have less need for trust. Back in the day, if you wanted to know whether or not a product was good you had a couple sources like a magazine and some acquaintances. Nowadays you have a plethora of information and you can form an effective opinion without allocating too much trust into any individual source.

Personally I think that lower amounts of trust is not necessarily a bad thing. Trust allows people to collaborate without an effective means of ensuring commitment to obligations. But on the flipside the more trustworthy a society is, the easier it is to abuse that trust. There's a good reason why scammers disproportionately go after the elderly, as they're the most trusting on average. The fact that we have built technologies and institutions that can function effectively with little or no trust is a good achievement.




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