Perhaps a good friend asks you to recommend a plumber, housecleaner, chiropractor or some other local professional. This is an opportunity for you to have influence on a decision and I am sure you would take this opportunity seriously. Obviously, there is trust between yourself and this good friend, and you don’t want to you offer an inappropriate recommendation. A poor recommendation could erode your friendship and possibly could cause harm, disappointment, or great expense for your friend. An excellent recommendation would enhance trust your friend has for you. If at a loss, since you don’t want to come up empty with the response “I have no clue,” perhaps you direct your friend to a website, someone else, or other resource to help your friend find the right person for the assignment. Of course, when helping out a friend, you want to do your best to offer support. Have you ever ended your advice with the phrase “believe me?” I doubt it. There is no point to saying “believe me” at the end of a trusted communication. Just like there is no point to knock on all your neighbors’ front doors and heartily proclaim that the sky is blue. If your input relates to something already clearly apparent, there is no reason to make such a comment in the first place. I consider adding the phrase “believe me” at the end of a comment delivered only if the person saying it would hope you would believe something that is hard to believe if not wholly untrue. In addition, stating “the sky is blue, believe me” sounds idiotic. Even more nuts is someone saying something that is obviously true again and again tagged with “believe me” at the end. For example- “The sky is blue, the sky is blue, the sky is blue, believe me.” There are those, especially in the realms of fashion, nutrition, and personal growth, called “influencers” with followers in the millions who have earned the trust of many for dispensing very appropriate and helpful advice. And there are those whose purpose is to deceive by offering untrue, misleading and erroneous advice. In reality, it is hard to separate those who try to offer influence with deceptive motives from those who are authentic and sincere. But I contend that the mental state of the person receiving the information is as important if not more important than the information itself. Depending on your political position, you prefer to take your cable information from Fox News, CNN, MSNBC or BBC International, but not continuously from all four. Your pre-existing beliefs about the world and politics comes first and your source for the “truth” follows. To boil all this down, we could simply say “believing is seeing.” When one accepts disclosures or information from another, one’s views would need to be in alignment with the information being delivered. Then, trust is needed between the communicators, which enhances the veracity of an already accepted claim. And finally, it seems the ability to independently verify information is minimally important regarding the truthfulness of what is being conveyed. When it comes to the world of politics, whether local, national or international, we all have our notions of the way things should be. When it comes to “influencers,” I argue that we listen to those who reinforce what we already believe with new tidbits of agreeing facts and that we tune out the rest. Despite what we have learned about the Russian connection with the Trump campaign and subsequent presidency, many still feel there are no serious issues soon to be revealed. Never mind that former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos and former National Security advisor Michael Flynn have pled guilty to lying to the FBI about their Russian connections. Never mind that Donald Trump Jr. has been proven to lie about holding high-level communications and meetings between Russian surrogates and high-level Trump campaign team to include Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. Never mind that senior Trump campaign advisor Carter Page has been under FBI surveillance for coordination with Russians well before Trump was nominated for president. And never mind the evidence of money laundering of tens of millions of dollars funneled to the Trump organization over many years by Russian businesses connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin. President Trump’s response to these facts is “There is no collusion, there is no collusion, there is no collusion, believe me.” Jonathan Kraut directs private investigations and private security firms, is a published author, Democratic Party activist, and SCV Interfaith Council member. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.