George Wilson Adams January 12, 2020



Trust Is the Basis for All Relationships

Trust is the universal foundation of all enduring relationships, including the business relationships clients have with professionals in all industries. Trust requires good judgment and perception. Trustworthiness requires proven, demonstrated good performance and reliability, and has nothing to do with faith. Thus, the relationship between a client and a professional is and must be a two way street. The opposite of trust is doubt, a double-edged sword. If you doubt everyone around you then everyone will doubt you.


Unfortunately there are two extreme, outlier groups: Some clients are incapable of trust no matter how well a professional earns and deserves it. And some professionals are unworthy and unfit to be trusted. This article is about the first group.



Why Some People Can't Trust

Adverse personal experiences and various mental health disorders including PTSD can make it difficult or impossible for some individuals to trust anyone. "Skeptical Sam" will never believe anything said to him and will demand proof of everything. The more trustworthy you prove yourself to be the more skeptical Sam will become. "Why are you trying so hard to earn my trust? What is your ulterior motive?" This is how Skeptical Sam thinks.


During tax season this past year I had to deal with one such skeptic in the context of filing an IRS extension request for his company. IRS extension forms (Form 7004 in this context) are automatic, do not require a signature, and contain no confirmation number of any kind. Nevertheless, this obtuse skeptic insisted on coming to my office to physically pick up a copy of the extension form I filed with the IRS, a bizarre request I have never encountered before in my twenty-five year career.


The reality is that the copy of the extension form I gave him was a completely worthless scrap of paper that offered no evidentiary value whatsoever that it had been filed with the IRS. (See my technical note at the end of this article on valid proof of timely filing of tax returns.) There was only one source of evidentiary value: my statement as a licensed CPA informing this skeptical client that I had indeed filed the extension. Because this person is incapable of trust, my assurance had no value to him of any kind and he required a tangible, physical, but meaningless substitute - a copy of the extension form. For 99.999% of clients my assurance that I filed an extension for them is trusted and taken at face value.


There can be no doubt that the inability to trust arises either from the absence or dysfunction of various brain regions that are fully operational in the large majority of people capable of trust. Similar impairments apply to people who are color-blind, tone-deaf, etc.


People incapable of trust frequently compensate by trying to micro-manage every aspect of their environment. The inability to trust can lead to various extreme situations:



Distrusting the Cook

Imagine Skeptical Sam visits a restaurant and orders a steak dinner. The man has never been to this particular restaurant before and is deeply skeptical about the cook. He talks to the manager and demands to be allowed to visit the kitchen and watch his steak being cooked. The manager is shocked by the unusual request but decides, as a gesture of goodwill, to grant the man's wish.


The man stands in the restaurant kitchen and observes the cook preparing his steak. The cook starts putting spices on the steak and the man becomes upset: "Stop! I don't want that much spice on my steak! Start all over again and go light on the spice!"


The spectacle escalates as Skeptical Sam continues to interfere with kitchen personnel and demand that they alter how they prepare his potatoes, vegetables, salad, etc. In exacerbation the manager finally orders the man to leave. He refuses and the incident becomes a police matter.


All of this simply begs the question: Why did Skeptical Sam go to the restaurant in the first place? Why didn't he just go home and make his own steak the way he likes it? I strongly suspect that some distrustful people enjoy inflicting their doubts on the rest of us for various personal reasons. Distrust based on emotions (not reason and facts) is an easy way to invalidate and discredit earned authority.



Passengers Who Want to Fly the Plane

Distrust is even more dangerous and disruptive when it occurs mid-flight on an airplane. Imagine a plane encounters bad weather and hits air pockets that cause random turbulence. A small group of Skeptical Sams begin to doubt the ability of the pilot and co-pilot. With each bump and vibration of the plane their distrust grows by leaps and bounds. After the plane hits an especially bad air pocket the skeptical passengers rush to the pilot compartment and begin pounding on his door. They demand that the pilot be fired immediately during the flight. One of the skeptical passengers boasts of his vast experience building and flying toy planes when he was a child. He offers to take over flying the commercial jetliner. He has no respect whatsoever for the earned authority of the pilot or co-pilot.



Losing Patience with Patients

Few industries have greater risk than medicine, where human life itself is at stake. The breakdown of trust for professionals and authorities in our society has extended to doctors, nurses and other health practitioners. There are more demands from health care professionals for a Bill of Rights that requires patients to refrain from rude, abusive behavior and to treat medical professionals with basic respect. See:




Here is Example 2:




And Example 3:




Q.E.D. (I've made my point.)



Distrusting All Authority

We live in a society where almost all forms of authority are broadly distrusted by many people. Objectively proven skill and ability are increasingly being replaced by a Rorschach test that is innately ambiguous and can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways. This is the case of healthy people living in a sick society.


Distrust within a society becomes overwhelming when there is no set of broad, shared, fundamental values. If social diversity exceeds a critical threshold, distrust becomes the norm when an average person is surrounded by "strangers." This is the antithesis of the ideal of a community where most members have a shared consensus on what they believe in.


A society that is incapable of trusting any authority is a society that deserves no authority: Anarchy. But even anarchy is not the end. The last stop on this fatal journey into the depths of distrust is full-scale paranoia and what the 17th century English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes infamously described as "the war of all against all."


The last remnants of respect for authority in our corrupt society persist in our armed forces, police, firefighters, elite schools, scientific institutions, and in the hierarchical, meritocratic command structures of highly effective organizations.


There is only one answer for people who are incapable of basic trust: Do It Yourself.



A Brief Thought Experiment: A Tale of Two Martian Colonies


trust 960

The Vera Rubin Ridge, Mars (NASA archives, Mars Curiosity Rover, April 11, 2019)



One day in the near future NASA decides to create two colonies on Mars. Each colony will be identical to the other in all ways except one: Colony A will practice the politically popular (for some) idea of diversity and multiculturalism in selecting who will comprise its members. Colony B will do the exact opposite and will select members who share fundamental values and beliefs. This is the only difference between the two colonies, which otherwise are given precisely the same degree of resources, favorable locations on Mars, etc.


What happens as these colonies struggle to survive under harsh Martian conditions?


Members of Colony A lack shared values and disagree on almost everything. They will argue and fight over every proposal, dispute any assertion of leadership, and drag the colony into the depths of chaos, confusion, mutual distrust and disorder. The long-term survival prospects of Colony A will be at a minimum.


Members of Colony B share fundamental values and beliefs and have a high degree of trust among themselves. When disagreements inevitably arise they are resolved in a civil and respectful manner. Members of Colony B work together as a team and achieve the goals set by leadership while respecting the rights of any dissident minorities. The long-term survival prospects of Colony B will be at a maximum.


Students of sociology will do well to read the 1985 paper by J. David Lewis and Andrew Weigert, Trust as a Social Reality. A key summary of their work is reflected in their table shown below:






R   High Low None
T High Ideological Trust Cognitive Trust Rational Prediction
N Low Emotional Trust Routine Trust Probable Anticipation
I None Faith Fate Uncertainty & Panic








"Hell is the truth seen too late."

Thomas Hobbes




Technical Note on Proof of Timely Filing of Tax Returns

IRS regulation 7502-1 provides detailed guidance on what constitutes valid evidence of the timely filing of a tax return including first class mail (good luck proving timely filing with this method), certified mail, registered mail, the electronic postmark for an electronically filed return (typically shown in a separate log) and various IRS-approved private delivery services. For a great summary of timely filing see:


 And here is a direct link to the full text of the IRS Regulation on proof of timely filing:



George Adams
Certified Public Accountant Master of Business Administration
Tel: (207) 989-2700 E-Mail: GeorgeAdams@IntelligenceForRent.com
450 South Main Street: The HQ of IQ
Brewer, Maine 04412-2339

©2015 Copyright George Adams CPA MBA. All Rights Reserved.