Big Thinking Panel - Expertise in a Post-truth Era: How to be a Trusted Advisor in a Low-trust World?

Conference Day: 
Day 2 - November 2nd 2017

Organized by: Peter Severinson, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Speakers: Lisa Kimmel, President and CEO, Edelman Canada; Mark Kingwell, Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto; Rima Wilkes, President, Canadian Sociological Association

Moderator: Gabriel Miller, Executive Director, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Takeaways and recommendations: 
  • Historically, North Americans expected their relationship with government to be purely transactional: taxes to services. Things began to shift in the 1960s as the public began expecting government to better reflect their values.

  • The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, a survey that looks at public trust in four key institutions – business, media, government and NGOs – found the following.

    • To increase trust, organizations should improve on ethical business practices, treating employees well, and listening to customer feedback.

    • Employees can be used to build trust: they are viewed as the most trusted people within an organization concerning the treatment of employees and customers, and on financial earnings and practices.

    • Canadians are more likely to trust sources outside of established areas of authority than inside.

    • Canada’s informed public trusts institutions, whereas the mass population distrusts institutions.

  • Science literacy should be added to general literacy as required for democracy to work.

  • There is no long a final authority for truth – a singular authority who holds the truth strikes us as untenable.

  • Trust is the foundation of everything we do in a professional capacity: we need to trust strangers and institutions in order for societies to function.

  • Who can afford to trust? In order to trust, a person takes a risk. A poor person, for example, has more to lose in trusting: to trust isn’t necessarily the best thing for certain individuals.