The more you know about bias and how deeply it’s entrenched in our brains, the more it becomes truly difficult to trust other people. How they will treat us. If what they say to us is true…
Unfortunately, we’re all capable of saying untrue things, regardless of any moral commitment to truthfulness. Contrary to what a lot of people think, you don’t even have to think someone is a purposeful liar to not trust the truth of their words. You don’t have to think they have the intent to mislead or deceive you.
Someone who says false things can 100% believe what they’re saying. Such a person can be speaking their truth while saying something that is demonstrably false by practically every other account.
Confidence Is Inversely Proportional to Ability — and We’re Swayed By Confidence
As Dunning-Kruger famously established, confidence and ability are quite often inversely proportional: Or to put it another way, the least skilled among us feel like they are the best performers, and the skilled conversely are plagued by doubt.
This alone would be vexing, but when coupled by our human tendency to be swayed by confidence in others and to view that as a sign that the person in question knows what they’re talking about… ooh boy.
Self-Delusion Can Make a Person Just as Untrustworthy as Purposeful Deception
The bottom line of all of this is that what we really have to watch for isn’t the purposeful liars (who at the end of the day have a number of clear tells, as conscious deception is reliably well spotted from quite a distance, for examples of these techniques, watch this, especially beginning around the 7:00 mark), the intentional twisters of truth, but the accidental ones. The self-deluded. Folks who are mistaken but quite confident. The intellectually incurious.
We can’t tell the truth to other people if we can’t accept it ourselves. If we give up when it becomes uncomfortable.
The truth of the moment is elusive enough. The truth of the future is even more so.
If we can’t know for sure that people are being truthful in the present moment, how can we possibly know what they will do or say when our back is turned? In a future that has not yet come to pass? In one altered by countless known unknowns?
We can’t. Especially without a proven track record.