Who can any of us trust?

A recent survey seems to say that since so few institutions have shown themselves worthy of our trust, then why trust anyone?

From the news release:

Independent Women’s Forum today released the results of a national online survey of women regarding “alarmism” conducted by the polling company, inc./WomanTrend among N=801 women with a +/– 3.5% margin of error. The survey found that negative headlines and alarming warnings about food, household items, and health leaves women feeling confused, suspicious, and overwhelmed, and does little to make them adjust their lifestyles.

The full survey results can be found here.

What is the Independent Women’s Forum?

The Washington, D.C.-based group describes itself as a “a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and educational institution dedicated to expanding the conservative coalition, both by increasing the number of women who understand and value the benefits of limited government, personal liberty, and free markets, and by countering those who seek to ever expand government in the name of protecting women.”

To put a finer point to it, the organization is anti-regulation, i.e., anti-soda tax. The only 990 tax document I found for the group was from 2004, and then it had about a million dollars in program service revenue.

From the survey summary:

Finally, “mommy (and non-mommy) guilt” seems pervasive, with two-thirds (66%) of women saying they sometimes feel badly about not doing enough to eat right and live healthily. These levels are relatively stable across most age, ethnic, and ideological lines, though single mothers (81%) are more likely to say they have guilt. This guilt is prevalent despite the fact that women report, by-and-large, that their lives are getting better. Over the next twelve months, 83% of women believe that their life will improve, or at the very least stay the same. Despite the pessimism about the direction of the country, and the constant onslaught of negative messages and warnings, women are undeterred when it comes to assessing their own personal situation.

Along the same lines, a large majority (76%) of women were adamant that their poor decisions were a matter of choice, and not access.

Women can find healthy options if they want them, deflating the argument that somehow Uncle Sam or Big Brother should intervene and educate them about that. In fact, the women surveyed were twice as likely to oppose (65%) than support (31%) government regulation of salt, sugar and fat consumption.

The survey report continues:

Distrust of the media is widespread across all age, ethnic, and ideological lines. Over 4 out of 5 women agree that the media are more interested in getting ratings than accurately reporting threats to health and safety. Part of this rests in their related view—with 87% of women agreeing—that it is cheap and easy to find somebody to argue a given position. Most distressingly, an overwhelming majority (83%) of women say they have difficulty discerning between legitimate concerns that might affect their health and well-being, and scary headlines designed to attract attention.

Worse yet, the data shows that the more women pay attention to health and safety concerns (primarily delivered by the media), the more they want more warnings. Over three-quarters (78%) of women say they pay attention to negative warnings; of those women, 71% say the media sounds the alarm “not often enough” or “the right amount”. Despite the admission that they have trouble telling the difference between real and fake threats, the constant bombardment predictably leaves them with more worries. Only 36% of women say that the negative warnings they receive leaves them informed.

While the news release tended to highlight the distrust of moms’ in media, it did not highlight their skepticism of big business. For example:

“The results show women want more information but they have a widespread distrust in the media – the largest purveyors of alarmist warnings. Moreover, women have little faith in warnings provided by the federal government and activist organizations."

Yet the full survey results reveal that the only institutions that women had less trust in than those were big business and partisan politicians.

 The survey results were described in loaded language; “worse yet; ” “most distressingly”; “media- the largest purveyor of alarmist warnings”; and this (isn't it obvious?) point: "Women can find healthy options if they want them, deflating the argument that somehow Uncle Sam or Big Brother should intervene and educate them about that.”

The survey did say that “women trust their friends and family, and their doctors most of all.”

As in Dr. Pepper, the Independent Women’s Forum may secretly hope. I kid, of course.

I am just as much anti-regulation as the next guy, but I do believe that we can trust “Big Brother” and "Uncle Sam" to help tell all of us to eat more fruits and vegetables and consume fewer sweetened beverages.

It is not all an alarmist plot to foist guilt on the good mothers of our country and draw big ratings. We can follow that advice to eat more fruits and veggies and we will live better. Trust me, I am with the media.