December 03, 2010

Trust and Transparency

My most recent Qualia post:

I have spent the last couple of days trying to decide what I think about the most recent Wikileaks dump.  On the one hand, I think that transparency and a free press are vital elements of functioning democracy.  On the other hand, I do not have much confidence in the ability or willingness of our media and other social institutions to be nuanced in their reactions to the material.

My deepest concern related to this latest episode is that it will unnecessarily erode hard won trust among diplomats and politicians whose job it is to make the our planet a safer place to live (this concern is nicely captured in a recent TNR article by James Rubin).  Climate science experienced its own analogous brouhaha with the release of emails among prominent modelers.  The subjects of that leak did not always come off as particularly nice folks, but who among us does not have moments of lesser discretion?  And while the climate science has been vindicated, it is less clear that relationship between the scientific community and others has come away unscathed.

I have reached the following conclusions so far:

  • each of us should all strive to be the best human that we can be, 
  • each of us is indeed human and with that comes a set of foibles and flaws which brings a need for nuance and forgiveness in our trust building, and finally,
  • well-deserved and robust trust enhances our ability to the create the communities we need in order to address the complex challenges that we face going forward.