The Dim-Post

June 29, 2010

Trust

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 6:45 am

There are a few interesting points in the Readers Digest annual survey on trust. The first is that it only samples 500 people which is about half the number you want for a robust poll. So the survey isn’t all that trustworthy.

But let’s assume it is, in which case the most trustworthy person in the country is VC winner Willy Apiata which is a strange call since his job is to sneak around killing people. Number 2 on the list is Kevin Milne from Fair Go – impressive for a consumer affairs journalist since reporters rank as one of the least trusted professions.

The two least trusted people on the list are Sir Roger Douglas and Hone Harawira, who of all our MPs are the most likely to be honest and upfront about their beliefs. Lockwood Smith, the Speaker who has done the most for open and transparent government of any politician in a generation is ranked just behind Eric Watson, a guy who personally destroyed the life-savings of tens of thousands of New Zealanders. People trust Roger Hall more than they trust Sir Paul Callaghan or Sir Peter Gluckman – which makes me suspect many people doing the survey didn’t know who many of the people on it were and just ranked them randomly in the middle.

The results for most trusted professions are also a bit weird. Scientists are a long way down the list. People trust the armed forces more than judges even though the military lies to us as a matter of routine. As usual teachers are very high on the list – it always amuses me to see various pundits on the right railing against teachers or calling on the government to smash their union.

Also strange to see fast-food servers as one of the least trusted professions in the country. I’ve eaten my share of pizzas and burgers and I don’t think any of the kids slaving away behind the counter has ever betrayed me or lied to me – unlike plumbers, mechanics and other tradespeople which are in the mid-range of the list. Surely these are the least trustworthy people in the country?

As the survey notes, Sex-workers are the third least trusted profession with tele-marketers coming dead last. While you might have moral issues about what these people do they’re not really untrustworthy – the whole thing is really a measure of vague, inarticulate prejudice rather than trust.

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29 Comments »

  1. two legs bad, four legs good.

    as a mere suggestion for your post.

    dunno where that leaves the chickens, but… they have beady, beady little eyes.

    Comment by Che Tibby — June 29, 2010 @ 7:56 am

  2. Haha, great post.

    Comment by Stephen — June 29, 2010 @ 7:59 am

  3. I don’t trust Readers Digest.

    Comment by andy (the other one) — June 29, 2010 @ 8:09 am

  4. Too true Danyl. Rodney Hide is on the record saying “he loves privitisation” and people don’t trust him.

    Weird.

    Comment by Gooner — June 29, 2010 @ 8:37 am

  5. Sounds like the Denture-Clacking Demographic talking.

    Bit of a worry about Apiata – would hate to think we are getting into the US mindset of worshipping the military.

    Comment by Ruth — June 29, 2010 @ 8:40 am

  6. It looks like all the politicians were dumped down the bottom of that list.

    Comment by mjl — June 29, 2010 @ 8:46 am

  7. Trustworthy does not equal “honest”.

    Would you trust this person to babysit your kids? Could anyone be safer than Willie Apiata?

    Would you trust this person to run the country? Well, I think a fair few people remember Sir Roger in finance during the 80s and Lockwood from his time in Education during the 90s.

    etc.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — June 29, 2010 @ 8:55 am

  8. I guess a reason for the fast food thing may be memories of the Hamilton Special Sauce incident.

    Also, a politician can be a person of complete integrity and completely wrong. A US political campaign once featured the slogan “vote for the crook”, the alternative being a neo-nazi.

    Comment by rich — June 29, 2010 @ 8:57 am

  9. “the whole thing is really a measure of vague, inarticulate prejudice”

    The polling enterprise in a nutshell.

    Comment by Stephen Judd — June 29, 2010 @ 8:59 am

  10. Also – 500 respondents is pretty fair-sized poll.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — June 29, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  11. The most trusted people look logical to me.. a mix of name and occupation recognition.. so Gluckman mightn’t ring too many bells, but his profession would.

    The occupations look logical in a rough order of how we use them.. and whats not to like about a teacher that takes the kids off your hands every day and maybe teaches them something?

    JC

    Comment by JC — June 29, 2010 @ 9:22 am

  12. Actually, yeah, I don’t trust readers digest either. ‘Lottery’ indeed.

    I’d have thought with 500 votes and 85 results the odds of no ties would be pretty slim?

    Comment by lyndon — June 29, 2010 @ 9:27 am

  13. It’s an online poll, isn’t it? I get the heebie-jeebies when the fine print says “representative sample” instead of “random sample”.

    Comment by bradluen — June 29, 2010 @ 9:30 am

  14. and whats not to like about a teacher that takes the kids off your hands every day and maybe teaches them something?

    They’re unionised! And mostly female! And they don’t get paid that much. Surely these are reason enough for the government to destroy them?

    Comment by Danyl Mclauchlan — June 29, 2010 @ 9:31 am

  15. “They’re unionised! And mostly female! And they don’t get paid that much. Surely these are reason enough for the government to destroy them?”

    Not when they are babysitters. But you wouldn’t want to remind people of those characteristics when you polled them.. nobody likes unionists, females and poor people.. although I suspect “female cousin” might do surprisingly well..

    JC

    Comment by JC — June 29, 2010 @ 9:54 am

  16. Ha “The results for most trusted professions are also a bit weird. Scientists are a long way down the list.” Thats easy to explain…

    Pinky: “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?”
    The Brain: “The same thing we do every night, Pinky—try to take over the world!”

    We know your all mad. Look at the list “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mad_scientists” and people have issues with lawyers, whilst lawyers are troublesome individuals they don’t have destroy the earth issues either “http://qntm.org/destroy”

    And your even proud about what you are “www.evilmadscientist.com”

    Comment by WH — June 29, 2010 @ 10:10 am

  17. I’d say our military lies more by omission for various (often justified) reasons or PR incompetence rather than deliberate misinformation, but that is in the eye of the beholder really.

    Interesting call on Apiata, not least of which that the qualities that make one an exceptional soldier do not automatically mean that one is a nice guy to be around when not soldiering. Plenty of examples around of war heroes who have been complete dicks in normal life (not implying that Apiata in any way fits that description, just saying).

    Scientists being low on the list is unfortunate, but not surprising (from one who works in the industry). Ignorance of how science actually works is rife among the general population.

    Comment by samm — June 29, 2010 @ 10:14 am

  18. “It’s an online poll, isn’t it?”

    i can’t see if it is or isn’t. if it is, you have a selection bias and non-response bias to content with.

    the poll is highly unlikely to be representative… however, if we know the demographics of the participants we can nail down the national bigots PDQ.

    Comment by Che Tibby — June 29, 2010 @ 10:15 am

  19. Nothing surprising in this – in fact, it’s a good measure of zeitgeist. Most people remember Willie Apiata as someone who got his VC by risking his own life to save someone else’s. Scientists, sadly, have to prostitute themselves these days in order to get funding – climate change evidence, anyone? Just name your price. Judges are always remembered for the odd completely idiotic judgment they make – like the one who, in sentencing Petricevic after his 1987 catastrophe, called him a fine upstanding citizen who needed to get back into the community asap. So he could do it all again? How come he didn’t get a supporters’ march up the main drag of Remuera when things went wrong for him, then?
    People respect unselfishness and abhor greed and arrogance. That’s what this poll tells us.

    Comment by Neil — June 29, 2010 @ 11:14 am

  20. I trust all polls. Especially the ones that tell us Sir Edmund Hillary is the “greatest living New Zealander”.

    Comment by sammy — June 29, 2010 @ 11:18 am

  21. But let’s assume it is, in which case the most trustworthy person in the country is VC winner Willy Apiata which is a strange call since his job is to sneak around killing people.

    I don’t share your surprise. Willie’s a damn good-looking man (I know that’s a slightly creepy thing to say about a distant relative, but moving on…), has a great personal “triumph over adversity” biography and from the moment he was awarded the V.C. he was surrounded by a slick, effective PR operation BP would kill for.

    And, hey, it’s not as if Apiata cluster-bombed a wedding reception or anything…

    Comment by Craig Ranapia — June 29, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  22. Actually, how much do we trust the Readers Digest?

    Comment by Stephen Judd — June 29, 2010 @ 11:34 am

  23. If the CIA was serious about catching Osama bin Laden they would simply sign him up to a Readers Digest subscription.

    Comment by cctrfred — June 29, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  24. Plumbers and electricians must be the most dishonest of all trades. Although when I think about it mechanics must be high on the list, partly because I know nothing about cars and I am sure every mechanic knows that when I venture in to their workshop.

    Comment by Ozy Mandias — June 29, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

  25. Is there a list of trusted magazines?
    If so, where does the RD sit?

    Comment by peterlepaysan — June 29, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

  26. @ OzyM

    It’s not that they’re deliberately ripping you off, it’s just that they can smell your lack of knowledge on their profession, and then a primal sort of predatory instinct takes over.

    Comment by Phil — June 29, 2010 @ 11:05 pm

  27. Oh you mean like Lawyers Phil.

    Comment by davy crockett — June 30, 2010 @ 7:57 am

  28. The difference being that Lawyers are consciously predatory.

    Comment by Phil — June 30, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  29. “They’re unionised! And mostly female! And they don’t get paid that much. Surely these are reason enough for the government to destroy them?”

    Hey, my brother’s a teacher! I’ll have to tell him that he’s unionised and mostly female. He already knows he doesn’t get paid that much.

    Comment by Nullary — June 30, 2010 @ 4:31 pm


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