On Skepticism and Trust

If the CIA has the wherewithal (and they’re not denying they do) to hack anybody and make it look like the Russians did it, there is no reason to assume the Russians don’t have the technology to hack the DNC and make it look like the CIA did it, because their scientists are as good as our scientists, it’s just a question of who is prioritizing what.
Personally, I suspect the CIA, but that’s because I always suspect the CIA. We have absolutely no way of knowing, and at least in the case of the DNC emails, it doesn’t matter. I’m glad they were exposed.
It’s sort of like with photoshop. I’m no expert, I can’t tell if something is photoshopped or not, and I look through the thread and some people are saying ‘that’s obviously photoshopped’ and some people are saying ‘no, that’s a genuine photo’ and unless I know them personally I have no way of knowing whether they know what they are talking about. So many people on Facebook exaggerate their level of expertise, which is not surprising, because most people exaggerate their level of expertise in real life as well.
Nobody ever wants to admit that they don’t know what they are talking about, which is kind of silly because nobody knows what they are talking about except a very few people, and even them only within a very narrow field of interest.
This morning I was teaching at a chemistry lab a bit outside of Prague, 3 scientists, 1 hour each. Sometimes I ask them questions about their work, but I don’t usually understand the answers so we wind up talking about more mundane things. Today, during a changeover of students, I picked up a book on the shelf, a reference book on chemistry, and leafed through it for a couple of minutes. The words were all in English but I had no idea what they were talking about, and there was about 900 pages of that, small font text plus diagrams. And that’s just one field. I’m sure there are books which go into just as much detail on medicine, astronomy, geology, wildlife, botany, economics and witchcraft.
It’s a sea of information, and nobody can do more than dabble their toes from a nice, safe beach somewhere.
I don’t really have a solution. It’s a scary world and it’s good to remain skeptical, but we only have civilization in the first place because at some point, tens of thousands of years ago, we were willing to allow for specialization, and development of individual talents in varying directions.
Skepticism. Trust. They don’t go together, at all, and yet we need both. Weird, eh?

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