All Journal Entries

  • (Day 402) Who’s $’s Are Behind The Scene?

    This blog posted by :  Dr. Edward Lundeen

    Study: Few Advocacy Groups Disclose Grants From Drug Companies”

    Part of the job of the Trust Tour is to expose trust failures and raise simple awareness.  Here is another example where Trust has been breached in a subtle but substantial way.

    Rebecca Voelker wrote recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA. 2011;305(7):662:

    “Influential disease-specific advocacy organizations that call for more research and access to treatment often do not disclose funding they receive from pharmaceutical companies that make the very medications they may encourage their members to use…  [The] findings showed that only 25% of the advocacy groups disclosed the Lilly grants on their Web sites and only 10% acknowledged Lilly as a grant event sponsor….  None of the organizations disclosed the specific grant amount they received.”

    [...]

  • (Day 397) We Pay To Be Lied To

    This article was submitted by guest blogger Dr. Edward Lundeen.

    50 years ago, the highest paid professionals were physicians and pilots.  We paid them a great deal back then in part because we trusted them.  They were in professions where they took our lives in their hands, where their actions could decide our fate. We rewarded them for their courage.  And to this day, though they may not be the highest paid professionals, we still trust them.  We believe they will do as they say they will and that they will do so honestly.  We place our absolute confidence in them each time we turn to them.  One thing is for sure — we never expect them to lie to us — we assume they will do their best to tell us the truth as they know it.

    Today, investment bankers are among our highest paid professions.  We entrust them with, not our lives, but our money, our source of short and long-term security.  And the recent evidence abounds that they lie and violate our trust with these lies consistently.  They lie in sophisticated ways that only those in their profession would likely understand (like pilots and physicians, they speak a private language when practicing their profession.)

    But we trust them anyway, because we must if we wish to invest our money, which has become an institution of capitalism.  They promise to make us money on our money if we let them have it and use it to ply their wares.  And, they make money whether we make money or lose it.  And moreover, often they are not accountable for their failures.  I say this because, if they lie and/or lose too much, the government will step in and bail them out in what is known in the industry as a “haircut”.

    Perhaps there are 3 trust violations in this action.

    1) The investment bankers.  They know they lie and manipulate numbers to make investors more confident and have them invest in less than sound choices.  They lack the integrity to admit their mistakes.  Driven by the industry norm that making money is job #1 and forgetting their sense of committment to their fellow humans they exploit others to their own end.

    2) The government.  Unwilling to risk upsetting large donors, they continue to rescue and forgive these people, spending future money to salvage present losses.  Govt. officials act in bad faith toward the present and the future.

    3) Investors.  Many know they are being lied to but they continue to invest anyway, intoxicated with the promise of big gains and failing to recognize the “too good to be true” sense they must have when seeing what is being offered.  Choosing to invest with known dishonest bankers, make all who work with them accomplices.

    Integrity and honesty in all spheres could fix the system, though not without short-term suffering; though we would more likely insure future generations would not inherit our mess.  The future trusts us to be good with today, and we are failing in this realm.

  • (Day 396) Trust and Wellbeing

    Posting offered by:  Dr. Edward Lundeen

    The *International Journal of Wellbeing* published an article: “Trust and Wellbeing.” by John F. Helliwell and Shun Wang.  Here are some excerpts that outline their piece.

    Humans are social beings, and trust is widely seen as an essential element in any social setting.  Without trust, people are loath to reach out, and to make the social connections that underpin any collaborative action. For trust to be durable, it needs to be justified by trustworthy behaviours of those being trusted.

    Like social capital, trust can be narrow or encompassing, be identified by type and purpose, be affected by geographic, social and cultural distance, and take more time to build than to destroy.  Many studies of the possible benefits of trust have focused on economic growth, and institutional development , with some attention paid also to health.

    In this paper we take a broader focus by looking at the linkages between trust and subjective wellbeing.

    We have confirmed that trust and wellbeing are tightly linked. Our new results show that those who feel themselves to be living in a trustworthy environment have much higher levels of subjective wellbeing. Worldwide, using the data from the Gallup World Poll, those who think their lost wallet would be returned if found by a neighbor or the police value their lives more than 7% higher than do those who do not think their wallets would be returned.  This is about the same increase in subjective wellbeing that would be associated with an increase of household income of about two-thirds.

    Since trust is so directly and strongly linked to subjective wellbeing, in addition to supporting many other economic and social activities that also affect wellbeing directly, it is important to consider what contributes to building and maintaining trust. Survey data and experiments alike suggest that trust is built on a base of shared positive experience, and is nurtured by continued connections. We find that the quality of social connections matters a lot to the maintenance of trust.

    Information for those who would like to contact the author: <john.helliwell@ubc.ca>.  The article is online at: <http://bit.ly/KenPopeTrustAndWellbeing>

    So there you have it.  Trust makes us feel better and is worth a lot of money in our lives.  A very valuable and very inexpensive effort to work toward.

  • (Day 392) Honesty Affects Job Performance

    Contributed by Dr. Edward Lundeen

    Researchers at Baylor University recently announced this finding from a study conducted across multiple companies in various US states.

    “The more honesty and humility an employee may have, the higher their job performance, as rated by the employees’ supervisor.” a press release noted.

    “Researchers already know that integrity can predict job performance and what we are saying here is that humility and honesty are also major components in that,” said Dr. Wade Rowatt, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor, who helped lead the study.

    Said simply, integrity, honesty and humility make for better employees, and that makes for better business, which in turns makes for better chances at economic growth and therefore better chances for people to lead successful and decently financed lives.

    This finding is yet another clarion call that a culture of selfish interest is bad for business, and ultimately leads to a negative spiral. Traits like integrity and honesty can be taught and rewarded, while selfish dishonesty can be outed and discouraged.

    These sorts of finding underscore what the TrustTour seeks. People can be cooperative with each other to the interest of all. The current (though waning) culture of narcissism, is misguided and leads to zero sum games where a few get rich but where such wealth can’t be sustained. What is needed is the movement toward truth and integrity. The TrustTour stands for just such ideals.

  • (Day 389) What It Takes To Be Number One

    I just came back from experiencing Lombardi on Broadway.   The entire play was performed by only five actors and 1 actress.   The man who played Vince Lombardi was amazing.  His voice alone commanded my focus.  I’m not sure how close to the real Lombardi his portrayal was, but it gave me new insights into why people felt he was so unique.  When I think about Lombardi, the first word that comes to mind is “solid.”  The man was grounded and knew himself well.   The second word I think of is “integrity.”  He had a certain wholeness, he had “it” together. He was consistent, disciplined and determined. There seemed to be very little ambiguity in his life.

    I enjoyed the experience, it is always good to be reminded of what it takes to be #1. Click on the video to hear it straight from Lombardi himself.

  • (Day 385) Notes on Egoism

    Sometimes when you are reading, you come across something so well said you exclaim out-loud, Wow! This is what happened to me when I reading the following.  It was even more meaningful when I realized it was written by someone who is barely an adult.  The points Joe makes are about movements, but they are really about how to live your life.  It is worth the time to read.   Enjoy!  Todd

    Some notes on Egoism

    The Trust Tour posts as a central tenet that selfishness in a broad sense will always create mistrust and internal and interpersonal division.  Joseph Lundeen, a high school senior, offers his thoughts on self-absorption.
    Although difficult to define, it is my opinion the ultimate cause of all we consider evil is the tendency of humans to seek their own advancement at the expense of others.  This is not to say that self-advancement is evil in and of itself, but that almost all evil actions result from selfish actions that fail to take into account the needs of other humans.  War for example results from one group seeking its own advancement by attempting to claim something belonging to another group.  In more everyday life, by far the most common motive for large scale crime is self-advancement on the part of the perpetrators.  Even crimes motivated by political or religious fanaticism, evils that appear to be based on altruism, contain a fundamentally selfish motive.  In both cases, one attempts to impose one’s view on another party without considering the flaws of one’s own ideology or the potential merits of another’s.  Also, these can only occur when the ideology takes precedence over basic human rights or self-evident moral truths.  Thus, fanatics selfishly place their views over more fundamental societal necessities.  Fanaticism also results from a lack of sufficient self-criticism, something quite very difficult to do at all, much less consistently.  It is easy to notice faults in others, but very difficult to notice faults in oneself or one’s beliefs.  In modern times, political commentators often accuse their opponents of fanaticism but fail to notice their own radical views.  As the Bible puts it (paraphrased): Would you pluck the splinter from your neighbor’s eye and fail to notice the stake in your own?

  • (Day 384) On Successful Utopian Movements

    Sometimes when you are reading, you come across something so well said you exclaim out-loud, Wow! This is what happened when I read the following.  It was even more meaningful when I realized it was written by someone who is barely an adult.  The points Joe makes are about movements, but they are really about how to live your life.  It is worth the time to read.   Enjoy!

    The following was written by 18 year old Joseph Lundeen, a senior in high school.  It represents some thoughts he was asked to write down after a conversation regarding the Trust Tour, which his father considers a realistic movement toward substantial world improvement.   Joe wants to be a physics major in college and enjoys thinking about philosophical problems as below only as a hobby.

    On Successful Utopian Movements
    The most important point is that no one person or group can design a utopia single-handedly.  History easily illustrates this as seen in the case of such attempted utopian societies as the Soviet Union or other communist state.  The mechanism behind this is that no one human being can anticipate all future developments.  If one group attempts to create all aspects of a society, no matter how pure their intentions, implicit bias will inevitably result in skewed or flawed precepts, or in ideas that simply grow outdated.  Rather, a successful political movement must start off with a set of basic, firm, but very vague and adaptable tenets.  For example, the Declaration of Independence, one of the most enduring documents when it comes to republican government in both America and the rest of the world, is centered on the simple themes of freedom and self-government; terms with concrete but adaptable meanings relevant to any time period.  From here, the movement must be a dynamic process, with each new generation of members contributing something and keeping it relevant to current events and attitudes.  The American Revolution is, an example of a successful movement and demonstrates many of the above qualities.  Prior to the revolution itself, the colonies had a good century or so of lax British rule to develop functioning governments and stable societies.  As a bonus, a series of great Enlightenment thinkers, starting with John Locke, provided another century’s worth of intellectual justification.  Thus, when the revolution came, it had a stable ideological base and well-developed structures to work with.  The movement continued to evolve and adapt to present day, as seen in the many amendments to the Constitution.  So too must any modern political utopian movement if it is to be successful.  It must allow itself to adapt, and in order to do so without compromising its own meaning, that meaning must be broad and vague, but still concrete enough to inspire action.  From here, as stated above, new members and generations can continue to improve and expand on the movement until it comes as close to perfection as possible.

    When it comes to founding utopian movements, there are few concrete rules and no infallible process.  However, there are several key “do nots” that can spell the death of a movement from its inception.  First, and most importantly, it must be non-exclusive; anyone must be able to join and one must never turn away a sympathizer.  Most movements ultimately failed because they committed this easiest of sins.  A few historical examples: the Athenian democracy failed in part because it excluded the lower classes; the Confederacy fell in no small part due to the defection of discontented slaves.  In contrast, inclusive movements,  such as Christianity, grew rapidly and eventually displaced the society where they were birthed.  Excluding potential members based on pre-existing qualities such as class or race not only greatly reduces available person-power, but, should the movement succeed in gaining control, creates factional animosity which can tear a society to pieces.  Second, the leader(s) must be someone who is persuasive and a well-spoken, but not overly egotistical.  If a cult of personality develops around the leader, their death or exit from the political arena will result in the group disintegrating.  Examples include Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party, which disappeared upon Roosevelt’s retirement, and most cults based on a deified leader.  As historian of science Michael Shermer puts it, the true test of any movement is how it reacts to the loss of its first leader.  If the movement has gained enough support and organization and attracted a sustainable segment of the population, it will live on.  Once again, the United State’s continued functioning even after the retirement of George Washington, the face of the movement, illustrates how necessary it is to have people who can take over via a method of choosing new leaders with speed and efficiency, in this case an election.  Finally, a movement cannot become grounded in the past or in a single narrow mindset.  If this happens, it not only loses relevance, but eventually will be replaced by something more relevant or better developed.  Societies such as the Roman Empire and Imperial China demonstrate this, in that both became complacent with the existing order even though it was unsustainable, the result being the Romans where replaced by the Germans and the Imperial family by the Communist Party.  This is the most important reason why the movement’s precepts must be vague and adaptable, so it can stay relevant and keep its fundamental identity.

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The Trust Tour ended August 22, 2012 at 1:20pm EST
 
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