Trust is an increasingly valuable currency in the world of research, but its foundations, definition and components are increasingly mercurial. In a TEDx Rochester video, Gregg Gordon, Managing Director of SSRN and Knowledge Lifecycle Management at Elsevier, digs into the concept of trust and asks whether we can take an objective view on this subjective theme.
SSRN is Elsevier’s preprint server and early-stage research platform, enabling academics to quickly access, read and collaborate with fellow researchers.
Referring to the current culture of debate, Gregg refers to the “culture of contempt” – a phrase coined by journalist Arthur Brooks – and links it to the degradation of trust reported in recent research. He explains: “The 2019 Edelman Trust barometer showed a historically high 16 percent point gap between the trusting informed public and the more sceptical mass population, telling us that the less information you have, the greater your lack of trust.”
Research has a role to play in informing people and rebuilding trust, Gregg says:
For the last 20 years, I’ve helped research move faster, and in my job I spend a lot of time with really smart people – like Gene Fama, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2013, or Richard Horton, who runs The Lancet, or Emilie Marcus (former CEO) of Cell Press. I love the scientific method. I love that you can take some research, take some ideas, and create knowledge from that. And I think that sharing it as quickly as possible helps and benefits all of us.
Gregg argues that it could be possible to objectively quantify trust and the components that constitute it. At the same time, he says, users of technology need to exert caution over the trust they place in apps and social networking, and systems of user ratings could have complex and far-reaching interactions for people’s lives in the future.