There has been enough productive history to know what functional social systems look like, and the basic common factor is obvious. Institutions advance by substituting for trust.
(To the extent we still have any of these things …)
— We have market capitalism because businesspeople can’t be trusted.
— We have experimental science because neither truth intuitions nor scientists can be trusted.
— We have constitutional republicanism because neither political leaders nor the citizenry can be trusted.
— We have freedom of conscience because priests can’t be trusted.
— We have common law because neither legislators nor judges can be trusted.
— We have the blogosphere because the media can’t be trusted.
— We have gold coins buried in the garden because bankers can’t be trusted.
— We have basements packed with semi-automatic rifles because state law enforcement can’t be trusted.
Siding with intelligence has nothing at all to do with trusting, liking, or respecting intelligent people. It is intelligent people, typically, who run the engines of stupidity. ‘Trust, but
verify‘ is politely euphemistic, and — in truth — wholly inadequate. Distrust, and test, test, test … to destruction wherever possible.
(1) The robust sophistication (or design quality) of any society or social institution is inversely proportional to the the trust it demands. This is not, of course, to be confused with the trust it earns.
(2) In any society capable of institution building, distrust is the principal driver of innovation. Systematization and automation, in general, incarnate distrust.
(3) Productive distrust reaches its apotheosis in the Internet, which routes around everything and everybody that has ever been believed.