How to earn trust
One of my favourite YouTube channels is called Kurzgesagt. They recently released a video explaining why you should trust their short, animated videos on topics as diverse as string theory, ageing and homeopathy.
The interesting part is not the deep dive into their research, writing and fact checking process; but that they spend almost half the video utterly ripping themselves to shreds.
They call out two videos specifically – one on refugees and another on addiction. They explain why they are problematic and that they have been removed.
I trust them so much more because of this self-flagellation. Because they are willing to admit their mistakes and bias. To explain why these were failures and how they were made. To flesh out the context, what has changed and why.
Going through this so comprehensively makes me believe they’ve learnt from their mistakes. And doing so in a prominent space (rather than, for instance, newspaper corrections being buried on page 15) shows they take it seriously.
Being right is a process, is hard, is often undignified, and it doesn’t get easier. Just look at how many public institutions we’ve built around these principles.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said for most of our media. They tend to prefer a model of trust built on prominence and obscurity rather than transparency. They seek to wish away bias rather than own and deal with it.
That doesn’t work anymore.
Some other great videos from the channel:
- Why meat is the best worst thing in the world (“If suffering were a resource, we would generate millions of tonnes of it a year“)
- Building a Mars base (“Mars is awful. You almost certainly don’t want to go there“)
- Should we end ageing? (“What we are doing right now is waiting until it is too late and the machine is failing. And then we use the vast majority of our resources trying to fix it as best we can.”)