The Credibility Factor

Part of the challenge with this new coronavirus is how much is not known about it. The human mind does like a mystery to solve, but what it likes most is the solution. Sometimes called closure, the mind likes having information put in its proper place – from “out of order, into order.” Being out of order, not knowing, bothers us.

One of the other challenges to the current situation is knowing just who or what to trust. There is a lot of information coming at us, on a daily basis. Some of it is contradictory. This is where our critical thinking skills are vitally important, to discover what is true and what isn’t, and who to believe and who to ignore. Finding those credible folks is a lesson in patience, persistence and tenacity.

First, we need to have a firm definition of credibility. You see, credibility does not come from within. We don’t give ourselves credibility. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Credibility and influence come from how others perceive us. When we look to learn from others, we are asking ourselves three important questions: One, is this person similar to me? Two, if there is no similarity, then has this person taught someone like me to a greater understanding of the material? And three, is this person “world class” in the knowledge I am seeking?

Next, we want to apply our definition of credibility to what we hear, and who we hear it from. Does the speaker have the relevant background? Are they educated and experienced about what they are saying? Have they proved themselves in the past, when it comes to communicating vital information? Now, most virologists and epidemiologists aren’t “like us” in what they know, but if their histories and education are validated, then we can place a certain level of trust in what they are presenting.

Those folks who reached maturity in the late 60’s and early 70’s will be familiar with this catch-phrase – Question Authority. It is as relevant now as it was 50-60 years ago. And once you have found your credible source for vital information, your mind will relax into order.