Who(m) Do You Trust?

Monday, March 20, 2006
A recent Harris Poll reveals that of all major institutions, the American public most trusts the leaders of the military (47% have "a great deal" of trust in military leaders). Doctors like me come in at only about 31%, and I have to say I feel good about being close to the Supremes (at 33%), or at least the Supremes as constituted since the appointments of Roberts and Alito. And I positively gloat at lording it over Congress, which has fallen from 16% to a miserable 10%.

The White House has also fallen six points, from 31% to 25%. As bad as our beleaguered President Bush might feel, he could be doing worse! He could be down there with Congress and the law firms; the latter also come in at 10% (draw your own conclusions).

The press holds firm at 14%. They appear to have bottomed out, but time will tell.

Somehow, I feel heartened that the public's trust in organized religion has risen from 27 to 30%, and is at its highest level since 1975, when the public was on the verge of electing a Georgia peanut farmer who admitted to having committed adultery "in his heart."

Again, draw your own conclusions. But I find it remarkable that after six years of President Bush, who wears his religion on his sleeve and who (to me, at least) seems to do so without dissembling, the public's trust in organized religion is again on the upswing.


David Thomson said...

“Somehow, I feel heartened that the public's trust in organized religion has risen from 27 to 30%”

So do I---and I’m a theological modernist. Organized religion underpins all viable societies. Am I therefore a hypocrite? Oh well, I prefer to consider myself a realist. Others may describe me as they wish.

ex-democrat said...

i don't mean to be picky, but what on earth does the question 'do you have a great deal of confidence in the leaders of law firms' mean - let alone the "answer" ?

could anyone polled name even one "leader" of a law firm?

Knucklehead said...


It wouldn't surprise me in the least if a majority of non-voters can't name their senators or congresscritter let alone a the leader of a law firm.

I think we'd have to imagine these questions should be phrased to something like, "Do you trust law firms?" because that's the qeustion that is probably getting answered.

A couple, three-four years ago there was some survey of Columbia School of Journalism students asking simple stuff like what's the VPOTUS's name and who is SecState and SecDef and such. Some proposterous percentage of the students couldn't answer beyond VP.

I commented in another thread a while back and pointed to this poll or one very similar. The only conclusion that can be drawn from it is that the people want a military coup.

Rick Ballard said...


I have a doll with one's name on it but all the pins make it unreadable now...

terrye said...

ex dem:

I think it all means they trust preachers more than lawyers but not as much as they trust soldiers.

truepeers said...

Compare, if you like, this recent poll on whom Canadians trust.

truepeers said...

David, your position is known as pragmatic paradox. In other words, you implicitly recognize that there are two kinds of human truth - the pragmatic and the fundamental - and that their relationship is paradoxical. Your understanding of fundamental human truth gives you a respect for the pragmatism of religion that even the religious might not be able to articulate, since they would have to be secular, rational beings like yourself to see fully the pragmatic value in their sincere faith.

In contrast, for religious people, the fundamental truth is the existence of God, while adherence to rational secularism is usually a pragmatic affair.

The two positions can be reconciled from the viewpoint of Generative Anthropology, but only by appreciating, not banishing, the paradox, i.e. by articulating the question in a way that refuses to answer the question of whether the paradox is God's or man's creation.

ex-democrat said...

terrye - "trust" them to do what? return the five dollars you might lend them? kick you when you're down?

terrye said...


Well now that is a good question.

Syl said...

Well I trust one law firm: Baker Botts :)

Rick Ballard said...


You did note that this is an 'American over eighteen' poll, I hope? If you drop down a bit and read the longitudinal results you'll see the fluctuations that the general population is famous for achieving.

Adding "small business" as an oppositional category to "big business" is a hoot. Used car lots, mechanics and contractors beat big business all to pieces in the 'trust' department.

I still can't quite reach an understanding of how attorneys rank the same as pols. It makes even less sense than the 'big business' - 'little business' split. True's Canada survey makes more sense - sort of.

ex-democrat said...

excellent point, rick. by the way, where would the profession "pollster" rank, do you think? ;-)