In general, do you trust other people?

I had accepted the job of evening anchor man on WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, Virginia, when I first found out about the honor system. It was the idea of Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia, as a daring new experiment at a public university designed to advance human knowledge, educate leaders and cultivate an informed and moral citizenry.

Imagine living in a society like that?

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Today, the honor system is still one of the UVA's most cherished institutions, even though trust is diminishing among people and colleges. I'm partial to UVA, and another favorite of mine is West Point. It was such a stain and humiliation for one of America's most highly-rated colleges to expel eight cadets and requiring more than 50 others to repeat a year of instruction, after their April 2021 cheating scandal.

What about prestigious Dartmouth College, where officials accused 17 medical students of cheating on remote tests? A published study found cheating rates during remote learning were as high as 80 percent!

Let's meld the honor system, vaccinations and face masks to the SouthCoast. As a former diner owner, I have firsthand experience with John Q. Public, and based on that, I believe people will lie if they're asked whether they are fully vaccinated, whether or not they are. Psychologists say people lie at least once a day, most of which are not malicious.

So here's the million-dollar question: how do you know who is vaccinated and who isn't? My intuition tells me, if the incentive is big and the risk is very low, people are definitely going to tell a fib about whether they are fully vaccinated, especially since Massachusetts regulations will require non-vaccinated people to wear face masks.

As a follower of the "trust but verify" credo, I believe for the most part, yes, people are good. But when it comes to the face mask spat, people good and not good will give you the lip service you're looking for.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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