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The Appeal to Distrust: A Fallacy That Affects Everyone

Trust is a valuable thing. It can be the binding force that helps people build each other up or the key to betrayal and manipulation. Trusting others can help AND hurt, depending on the situation. So who can you trust? Technically speaking: No one.

There is a common fallacy known as the Appeal to Trust. This points out the flaws in an argument that the information presented to a person is true or not based on what that person thinks of the source. For example: AP News releases a report that there is a secret crime syndication based out of Kansas. Because AP News is a trusted source of information by most people, those people are inclined to believe the report to be true.

This works the other way, too. If you see information from a source you DON’T trust, you are more inclined to believe that the information is false.

Both scenarios can be problematic because it assumes the absolute between trust and fact. This can lead to people believing statements that aren’t true or not believing the truth just because someone they don’t trust said it.

But this isn’t exactly the point I’m wanting to make.

Trust Me, You Can’t Trust Them

There is another fallacy of sorts. I haven’t been able to find a proper name for it, since it’s a touch hard to describe. It’s when a source of information uses your distrust of others to establish trust with themselves.

For example: A source points out how many other sources will twist facts (or even just lie) about information because they want to spread misinformation or to tell the viewers what they want to hear. By calling those sources out, it implies that they are better than that and can be trusted. This can be especially seen in political websites where there are frequently polarizing issues (republican vs democratic ideals).

This logic can be problematic because as long as the two ideals are different enough, there’s no real way to tell who is being deceptive and who is being trustworthy. This is assuming you don’t have concrete evidence for which is true BEFORE viewing the source in question.

But Here’s the Real Problem

It sounds pretty insidious, doesn’t it? But the worst part is that it can be done completely unintentionally. I know this because I sometimes do it without meaning to. As a journalist, I take immense pride in making sure that whatever I report on is factually accurate and free of bias. I believe that too many sites and news sources online distort the truth in favor of a greater agenda. As such, I want my writing to not be like those “untrustworthy” sources and be a reliable beacon of accuracy.

See where I’m going with this? I want you to trust me because I’m not like those other sites that’d rather trick or mislead you. But at the same time, the exact sites I’m talking about could make the same argument AGAINST me.

So Who Can I Trust?

No one. You should never trust any single news source entirely. Not even me. Whenever you find information that might be of importance, it’s a good idea to do your own research. Find the original source of the claims, whether that’s digging into official government documents, or finding unedited video, or finding the original claims. Otherwise, I’ll keep doing my best to bring you the unfiltered truth.

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