"The COVID crisis has laid bare a crisis of trust.
In many Western nations there’s a small but significant minority refusing to
follow distancing guidelines, wear masks or get a vaccination. Protests in
recent weeks have demonstrated just how much they mistrust politicians,
scientists, bureaucrats, the “mainstream media” and many of their fellow
And that’s a problem — because higher trust levels have been shown to be
associated with markedly better outcomes in handling the virus. As the World
Happiness Report 2021 published in March concluded, generally the higher the
level of social trust, the lower the nation’s COVID-19 death rate.
So what can be done to combat this pandemic of mistrust?
Using data on national trust levels published over the past few years, my
analysis suggests more than 80% of differences in trust levels between nations
can be explained by just two factors: economic inequality and, to a lesser
extent, perceptions of corruption.
This calculation underlines the importance of tackling the conditions in which
misinformation thrives. Censorship and other blunt instruments have their
place, but only treat the symptoms. To treat the cause requires promoting
equality and fairness."
This is a vitally important point. Societies that repeatedly demonstrate they
are not trustworthy breed mistrust, which works against the ability to have a
functioning civilisation that can work together for the common good. If we
cannot demonstrably deliver equality and prevent corruption, we risk a decline
and fall that ends in disaster.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics