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November 2021

Trust and Mistrust

Lifted from a post on the Ace of Spades website, quoting "Needle Points", by Norman Doidge - a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and author:

As of a September 2019 Gallup poll, only a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic, Big Pharma was the least trusted of America's 25 top industry sectors, No. 25 of 25. In the eyes of ordinary Americans, it had both the highest negatives and the lowest positives of all industries. At No. 24 was the federal government, and at No. 23 was the health care industry.

These three industries form a neat troika (though at No. 22 was the advertising and public relations industry, which facilitates the work of the other three.) Those inside the troika often characterize the vaccine hesitant as broadly fringe and paranoid. But there are plenty of industries and sectors that Americans do trust. Of the top 25 U.S. industry sectors, 21 enjoy net positive views from American voters. Only pharma, government, health care, and PR are seen as net negative: precisely the sectors involved in the rollout of the COVID vaccines. This set the conditions, in a way, for a perfect storm.


What distinguishes the courageous person from the coward is not that they don't worry or fear, but that they can still manage to move forward into the dangerous situation they cannot avoid facing. All of which is to say that the presence of anxiety alone is not dispositive of sanity or insanity: It, alone, does not tell you whether the anxiety is well or ill-founded. The same goes with distrust. Sometimes distrust is paranoia, and sometimes it is healthy skepticism.


Emphasis mine.

I keep adding to this post as I read the article. Here the author quotes Tocqueville for a "way out":

For Tocqueville, "the tyranny of the majority over the minority" is the ever-present danger in democracies, the remedy for which, John Stuart Mill argued, was a protection of minority rights, and, above all, the right to continue speaking--even if a majority opinion seemed to be crystalizing. Mill in the end was influenced and changed by Tocqueville's notion of the tyranny of the majority, and pointed out that the tyranny unique to democracy gave rise to "the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion" in the social sphere, in our so-called free societies. It moved him to write his great plea for free speech, in On Liberty:

Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. . .