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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from

  • BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Rob.

  • As well as bringing the world to a halt

  • the coronavirus epidemic has led

  • to an increase

  • in misinformation, lies and

  • conspiracy theories on the internet.

  • In an era of fake news, where even

  • a president of the United States is

  • accused of spreading

  • misinformation, could it be that we are

  • living through a crisis in trust?

  • What is trust? And

  • who should we place our trust in? - these

  • are some of the questions

  • we'll be discussing

  • in this programme.

  • And we'll be hearing from a philosopher

  • who believes the problem

  • is not about trust itself

  • but about trustworthiness - the ability

  • to be trusted as being honest and reliable.

  • And as always we'll be learning some

  • related vocabulary along the way.

  • Of course telling

  • lies and lacking trustworthiness is

  • nothing new - just think of

  • the Trojan Horse used

  • to trick the ancient Greeks.

  • More recently, the American financier

  • Bernie Madoff become infamous

  • as 'the biggest swindler

  • in history'. In 2009 he was sentenced

  • to 150 years in prison for

  • his part in the Ponzi

  • scam, but how much did he defraud from

  • investors? That's my quiz question.

  • Was it:

  • a) 6.5 million dollars?, b) 65 million

  • dollars? or c) 65 billion dollars?

  • I'll say b) 65 million dollars.

  • OK, Rob, we'll come back to that later.

  • Generally speaking, trust can be

  • described as a judgement

  • that someone can be believed

  • and relied upon. When we

  • trust each other it makes life easier,

  • quicker and friendlier.

  • Society can't function without trust - so

  • does that mean the more trust the better?

  • Well, not according to philosopher, Onora

  • O'Neill. Here he is speaking

  • to David Edmonds,

  • presenter of the BBC World Service

  • programme, The Big Idea:

  • We have another word, which is gullible,

  • and if you simply place

  • trust indiscriminately

  • without making a judgement about

  • whether the other person or

  • institution is trustworthy

  • then just trusting to luck as we say,

  • is probably not a virtue.

  • There's a difference between trusting

  • someone because you have

  • good reason to believe them

  • and being gullible - that's easy to deceive

  • because you trust and believe

  • people too quickly.

  • If you don't judge who is trustworthy

  • and who is not, you are

  • trusting to luck - simply

  • believing or hoping that things

  • will happen for the best.

  • But being gullible and trusting

  • to luck is exactly how Bernie Madoff

  • was able to trick

  • so many people into giving him their

  • money. Their biggest mistake

  • was to trust him indiscriminately

  • - in a way that does not show care or

  • judgement, usually with harmful results.

  • So, if indiscriminately trusting people is

  • such a bad idea, how do

  • we avoid it? How can

  • we tell who is trustworthy and who is not?

  • Here's BBC World Service's

  • The Big Idea presenter,

  • David Edmonds, asking

  • Onora O'Neill to give some details:

  • An individual or organisation is

  • trustworthy is they can

  • justifiably be trusted. To be

  • trustworthy they need three ingredients.

  • First, honesty - people have

  • to be able to believe

  • what they're told. Second, competence.

  • Beyond honesty and

  • competence there's a third element

  • to trustworthiness: reliability.

  • That's the boring one. That's just being

  • honest and competent each time

  • so that it's not enough

  • to be episodically honest and competent

  • for some of the things

  • you claim to be able to

  • do but not others.

  • Philosopher Onora O'Neill identifies three

  • ingredients for trustworthiness: honesty,

  • competence and reliability.

  • Competence means the ability to do

  • something well. You would trust

  • a car mechanic to fix

  • your broken car engine, but you wouldn't

  • go to them for dental work -

  • they're not competent

  • to remove your tooth like a dentist is.

  • And you wouldn't trust your dentist to fix

  • your broken down car, either!

  • Onora O'Neill

  • also mentions reliability - being

  • trustworthy because you behave

  • well all the time and keep

  • all the promises you make.

  • It's the combination of these three - being

  • honest, competent and

  • reliable - that makes

  • someone truly trustworthy.

  • And not someone like Bernie Madoff,

  • who would run off with your

  • money and entire life savings.

  • All of which brings me to my quiz

  • question. Do you remember, Rob?

  • Yep, I do. You asked how much

  • Bernie Madoff stole from

  • the American investors he lied

  • to. And I said b) 65 million dollars.

  • But in fact it was c) 65 billion dollars - a

  • lot of money to give

  • to such an untrustworthy

  • man!

  • So we've been discussing whether there

  • is a crisis of trust and asking

  • how to know who

  • is trustworthy - able to be trusted

  • as honest, competent and reliable.

  • Placing your trust in someone trustworthy

  • is very different from being gullible - easy

  • to trick because you trust

  • and believe people too quickly.

  • And it can also be unhelpful to trust

  • things to luck - simply hope

  • or believe that everything

  • will work out for the best.

  • Both of these problems come about

  • when people trust indiscriminately -

  • in an unsystematic

  • way that does not show care or

  • judgement, usually with

  • harmful results - as Bernie Madoff's

  • victims found out to their cost.

  • But luckily there are many trustworthy

  • people around and we

  • can spot them using three criteria:

  • honesty, in other words not lying;

  • competence; and reliability.

  • Competence means an ability to do

  • something well, in the correct

  • and effective way.

  • And reliability means being honest and

  • competent, all the time, not

  • just being honest sometimes

  • or reliable in some actions but not others.

  • That's all for 6 Minute English. Bye for now!

  • Bye bye!

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B1 UK trust trustworthy competence competent reliability trusting

Is this the era of distrust? - 6 Minute English

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    Jack posted on 2020/08/14
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