Let’s take a look at how an entity’s actions affect that entity’s credibility. We can illustrate with relations between two people who (1) don’t know each other well, and (2) must conclude an agreement, or partnership, that involves them in some endeavor for mutual benefit. Neither party knows the other well enough to estimate accurately how trustworthy the other person is. How do you learn what you need to know about the other party, to gauge his reliability as a partner? Conversely, how do you improve the other person’s ability to make an accurate estimate about your trustworthiness?
(a) Place a clause in the contract that allows the other person to withdraw from the agreement, without loss, should the agreement not yield expected benefits.
(b) Conduct comprehensive surveillance on the other party, in secret, to discover what he says to his associates in private. When he discovers the surveillance, apologize and dismiss it as a public distraction.
(c) Invite the other person to a demonstration of your power over your enemies, where you strap your enemy head down on an inclined board, place a cloth over his face, and pour water down his nostrils to simulate drowning.
(d) Place a large amount of money in trust, up front, to cover losses the other party might suffer due to failure on your part to meet expectations written into the agreement.
(e) Each one of these actions would improve the other party’s ability to make an accurate estimate about your trustworthiness.
Clearly, the answer is (e). (a) and (d) make the other party trust you. (b) and (c) make the other party confident that you cannot be trusted. Footnote: if you want to learn about the other party’s reliability, don’t spy on him. It won’t help.
Fundamental conceptions about our democracy
Here’s a simple point I made a year ago, in What Distinguishes Conspiracy Nuts from the Rest of Us? It grows from the question, if the government tortures people in the open, what does it do in secret? Plenty, it turns out. Power generates a lot of self-sustaining energy. People caught up in that power, or who believe in its beneficial effects, tend not to be skeptical about it. People detached from it, or who believe in its harmful effects, tend not to give government benefit of the doubt on anything. They expect the worst. They observe what government does in plain sight, and begin to ask questions about things we cannot see.
These two views about government do not commingle readily. They incorporate drastically different conceptions of citizenship. At a certain point, they become irreconcilable.
Bob Harris discusses evidence related to Kennedy’s assassination
Bob Harris, the narrator and researcher in these films, will impress you with his reasonableness: