I've worried for a while now, that trusting in the wisdom of others seems more and more necessary, as we enter a more and more complex world, and less and less common, as institutions deteriorate and public trust evaporates.

I strongly suspect a major cause is that people in whom trust had been placed have been reckless and unworthy of that trust. Which abstracts the problem further – how did that happen? Something wrong happened in politics to get Nixon. Many wrong things, I imagine. Relentless partisanship leads to people trading to get policies they want, and choosing the person most worthy of trust goes out the window. Presumably many other things.

Something bad has happened with journalism, although that field's been flirting with disaster since its creation. I strongly suspect fact checking has become rarer than it used to be due to internet-content economics making money harder to grab. Yet access to that same technology makes pandering much easier. I suspect this combination is the cause of the extreme decline in (the already far from perfect) New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.

Science does not truly exist as an institution. In some ways I think that's saved the more grand venture from the worst elements of institutionalized science. Suffice it to say, cost escalation, pandering escalation to compete for those dollars, and partisanship are causing problems in universities too. I will leave it at that and invite your own more detailed analysis – there's nothing I could say that has not already been said.

My only prescription is to understand what it means for someone to have authority, and to only support the authority of people you trust. And that means not second-guessing every single decision. Give them time to maintain that trust, don't rush to judgment. But if it means not attending Harvard because their faculty praises bullies, the world only gets better – and your own life less miserable in the process. I cannot comprehend someone choosing a miserable but slightly more successful career, but let me assure you that decision style will compound over a lifetime towards a quite total torture. It is a small bravery, to trust with your heart and your head. The trades are always worse than they appear anyway.