Getting to the truth

One aspect of truth concerns knowing when to trust others when one’s own knowledge is inadequate. This is an ever more common problem in societies where technological and scientific change seems to be constantly accelerating. There is an increasing need to rely on the expertise of others and consequently to know when others are more likely to be offering an objective opinion as opposed to a biased one. Here, I argue that there are systematic and early emerging cognitive heuristics and biases that profoundly influence our patterns of deference, our ways of assessing expertise, and our sense of when testimony is to be trusted. For the most part, the power and pervasiveness of these biases are ignored or greatly underappreciated. These biases and heuristics can both mislead and inform our understanding and use of others’ expertise; it is therefore critical that we acknowledge their presence and know how to work with them.
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