Trust in....

Trust Apr 03, 2020

I was thinking about the findings about social distancing from the Australia study. Via National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases:

[A] less expected finding by McVernon and colleagues was the extent of variability in the quarantine recommendations given to families, which reflected public health system challenges in consistent implementation of closures. The authors suggest that irregular practice rather than public compliance may undermine the effectiveness of school closures.

People have to communicate well to engender trust. If the authorities don't, the trust doesn't follow and compliance doesn't follow. So, what if we extended this idea. Recently, many people have been critical of those not following the stay in place orders. But, what if people didn't trust the people in charge in the first place?

Who trusts the leaders and who doesn't? That's the question. And, I'm choosing to avoid offices like the Presidency because that changes based on the person. I'm more curious about the "non-partisan" institutions.

Let's look at universities. After all, people wouldn't comply if they don't believe the "experts", right? From Michael Schill (President of University of Oregon, Archive, Archive):

Barely half of Americans responding to a survey administered by the Gallup Corporation earlier this year said that they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in higher education. The proportion slipped below 50% when the question specifically addressed colleges and universities.
This does not seem to be a phenomenon that is confined to the United States. Empirical findings of a modest decline in overall confidence in colleges and universities and big increases in polarisation – at least in the US[.]

Clearly, Mr. Schill believes that the view is unjustified. Furthermore, he states:

A similar pattern was revealed in a recent Pew Research Center survey that reported that only 55% of Americans felt that colleges and universities had a positive effect on how things were going in the country. Among Republicans, 58% said that colleges and universities had a negative effect on the nation. However, 72% of Democrats had a positive view, relatively unchanged during recent years.

That was extreme to me. 58% of Republicans say colleges and universities are a net negative. This article though, is part of the problem. A college President and he didn't cite his information. I had to find those myself. From Pew (Archive):

Most of these numbers are exactly what I'd expect on the Democrat side. However, the Republican side is strange. As income goes up, respect for college goes down. Republican College Graduates believe college is less beneficial than those who graduated high school. Another part that surprised me is the age range. As Republicans tend younger their view of college is better.

Moving on, let's look for the actual information from Gallup (Archive) about general trust.

Gallup Trust is Television News

I wanted some way to compare the years more fairly. I thought about moving averages of the "Great deal/Quite a lot" responses. However, I decided on a weighted averaged based on the response category. The weighting is simple, Great deal is 1, Quite a lot is .75, Some is .5, Very little is .25, and None is 0. That results in a numerical representation of the trust level of TV News which includes the differences in strength of feeling.

The part that stands out to me? The trend-line on every single one is down. Some go down faster (Congress, TV News) and others are relatively flat (Big Business). However, trust is down across the board. What does that mean? That's up to you. Even if I knew and told you, you most likely wouldn't trust me 😉.