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10:46 p.m. 2010-03-18

From an email to Dave R

The more trust you find between people, the better society works. I actually touched on this theme in my hall of fame acceptance speech (go to homecoming this year if you can, it was a really good time), when a group of people trusts one another they can do amazing things, like build highways, go to the moon, and leave their women alone to go off hunting. When you can't trust people around you... what kind of security measures do you have to take to keep out machete wielding maniacs? It is hard to do anything else when you are spending your time thinking about that. I bet you have expended more mental energy trying to figure out where to go in bionic commando than trying to figure out how to keep the machete maniacs from up the street out of your garden and away from your children. You can do so much with your life because you are doing things other than worrying about that. In the presence of neighbors that you don't trust, you can't do a doctoral dissertation. Knowing that your neighbors don't trust you and are going to do what it takes to keep you away from them is also a really good reason for you to carry your own machete. The wonders of self defeating/sustaining feed back loops.

That would be an equation I would put on my back. The effect of increased trust on a social networks efficiency and the measure of drag that mistrust creates.* I don't know what that would look like, but those numbers would be like those cosmic factors that kept the universe from falling in on itself at the big bang... we would not exist without them.

*the equation would be balanced by the incentive to cheat those who trust you, which tends to get bigger in the presence of more resources which are generally produced in an environment of greater trust, but can be produced by other factors... such as massive oil wealth.

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