Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

“Why do you trust me?”

Recently, a new old friend suddenly asked me: “Why do you trust me?” I did not have an immediate answer and made a note of her question. Our history indeed justifies that her question to me is appropriate and valid. Perhaps, I should neither trust her, nor the Russian president. Hence, why do we trust people?

My initial consideration was: do I have an alternative? Actually, yes because skepticism is in between trust and distrust or mistrust. A recent Aeon article, Scepticism as a way of life, states: “The desire for certainty is often foolish and sometimes dangerous. Scepticism undermines it, both in oneself and in others”.

I have adopted skepticism as a way of life, for a very long time. Even my motto in life is: Trust, but verify (eg, my 2015 blog, Wiki). Nevertheless, I do not recommend that to you because it’s rather exhausting.

The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has shown that the impact of misguided trust can be immense. A recent FD article argued whether – or not – that invasion was a black swan event because its likelihood had been considered as remote. Hence, trust should be viewed along these two dimensions: likelihood and impact.

There are two types of human interaction: competition vs cooperation. Avoidance of interaction might be a 3rd type. The type of interaction defines the level of trust: cooperation requires trust, while competition requires (some) distrust or mistrust. The impact of misguided trust in cooperation is (very) high.

My diagram to the left summarizes the above.

In 2016, the New York Times published an intriguing article: Pigeons Resist Misguided Leaders. Humans need and/or want to believe in misguided leaders. In my view, our belief systems separate us from any other species on this planet.

There is a dilemma in my reasoning: humans are self-centred or even egoistic, and rarely do anything that does not benefit them, (eg, directly/indirectly, sooner/later). We all strive for advantage and self-interest.

So, how does trusting benefit us?

On an individual or micro level, the answer is along the lines of assuming or expecting that we will get what we want to have (eg, love, money, power, sex). On a macro or international level, our trust-based cooperation with Russia must also have been rooted in expecting to get what we want (eg, peace dividends).

You Can’t Always Get What You Want (1969) by the Rolling Stones
artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

[Intro: London Bach Choir]
I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she would meet her connection
At her feet was a foot-loose man
No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime
You’ll find
You get what you need

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.

Note by Genius:
“A classic off of the Stones’s Let it Bleed that deals with the difference between desire and need. The main point it tries to get across is that life can suck sometimes when you’re trying to get something you think you need, but that usually ends in you getting what you actually need.”

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