A couple of weeks ago I wrote about epistemic dependence and the idea that we need to trust experts because we are unable to verify everything ourselves as life is too short and there are too many things to think about. However, this approach exposes us to the risk of being misled and Julian Baggini has suggested that this risk is increasing with the growth of psychology, which has allowed more people to master methods of manipulating us, that has led to ‘a kind of arms race of deception in which truth is the main casualty.’ He suggests that when we are presented with new information then we should perform an epstemic triage by asking:
- Is this a domain in which anyone can speak the truth?
- What kind of expert is a trustworthy source of truth in that domain?
- Is a particular expert to be trusted?
The deluge of information, which streams in front of our eyes when we look at the screens of our phones, computers and televisions, seems to leave most of us grasping for a hold on reality. Perhaps we should treat it all as fiction until have performed Baggini’s triage, at least on the sources of the information streams, if not also the individual items of information.
Julian Baggini, A short history of truth: consolations for a post-truth world, London: Quercus Editions Ltd, 2017.
This is really good and useful. Thanks Eann.