Naval: There are a lot of institutions in our society today that rely on credibility stamps.
They used to be how you gain credibility in society. If you were a journalist writing for The New York Times or The Washington Post, then you had the masthead of The Times and The Post. If you’re a professor at Harvard, you have credibility because you’re a professor at Harvard.
Of course, those systems got hacked. A lot of social scientists who have no business telling the world what to do are now in there with nonsense political models masquerading as economists or natural scientists. You have people who are activists writing under the mastheads of these formerly great newspapers and burning up the credibility capital that these newspapers have built up over time.
The Internet is exposing them slowly but steadily, and we’re going through a transition phase where the masses still believe in the institutions.
We’re caught in this Schelling point, this coordination point for the institutions: How do I know if I should hire you? Will you have a diploma from Harvard? I know it’s not as good as it used to be. I know a Harvard humanities diploma’s probably nonsense at this point, but I don’t have any other credibility metric to filter you and I need to do it in an efficient way.
What we’re seeing is the transition of power from institutions to individuals, but it’s going to be messy and it’s going to take at least a generation.
In the meantime, the institutions are fighting back. We’re in the Empire Strikes Back phase where they’re trying to take over the new platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Patreon, which empower the individuals.
Brett: The university and all of the academia have a very big stick in terms of being able to train their own next generation of teachers who then go on to teach the next generation of primary and secondary school students.
Naval: It’s a priesthood. You’re only allowed to say what the priests have approved, and you can only say that if you are a priest, and the priests get to decide who’s a priest.