Credibility is defined as the quality of being trusted and believed in.
But it is not the same as being true.
Who is more credible on the subject of writing?
The college professor who has published in scholarly journals
The New York Times best selling author
The rational would say that it depends on the advice or the subject. The emotional will indicate that it depends on their proximity and relationship to the subject.
R: The professor specializes in Russian Long form and Eastern European poetry, so as long as that is the realm we are discussing then they are more credible than The NYT bestseller H.K. Rowling but on the subject of YA or scholastic fiction Rowling’s is the more creditable source.
E: I loved the Harry Potter books and they inspired my own journey into writing fan fiction then novels, H.K. Rowling’s is the more creditable source. But my teacher has shown me the finer points of the finer technical points of long form novels even if they were written by some Russian ages ago.
The answer I’ve been trying to find is just how does one manufacture “Credibility”
I know it’s been done before and I’ve seen it done a few different ways.
The first is
or friend of a friend
the poem “Ozymandias”, Plato’s description of the fall of Atlantis, Star Wars’ opening crawl.
Each use this with great effect to provide a creditable foundation.
It is thought (incorrectly) that because a story is removed by time, space, and even told third hand that it becomes less creditable but there is a blind spot in our psyche’s in the factor of three.
“I met a traveler(1) from an antique land(2).
In Plato’s Dialogues Plato(1) writes that Socrates(2) called three men to meet him. Socrates(2) asked the men about Atlantis Critias(3,) told them of a story he heard from his grandfather(1A) who heard from the lawgiver Solon(2A) who brought tales from Egypt(3A) about Atlantis.
Plato uses the FOAF technique twice. First to give himself credibility (that this meeting happened and these things were said) then again to give the speaker Critias credibility (that the city/country of Atlantis was indeed a real place).
For the rational this is too far removed to be trusted, but for the emotional with ties/respect for Socrates this is only one use of FOAF and likely creditable.
And of course Star Wars opens with
“A long(1) time ago in a galaxy far(2), far(3) away.”
Each modifier here adds distance and with FOAF gives enough credibility to narrative about to crawl across the screen before the star destroyer appears.
Now of course it’s just a fairy tale nod.
“Once upon a time(1), in a kingdom far(2), far(3) away.”
but with less modifiers the story’s required suspension of disbelief is at jeopardy from over scrutiny of the audience. With more modifiers like Plato’s Dialogues the relevance to the target is called into question and the information can be judged objectively on it’s merits.
“A long(1), long(2), like really long(3) time ago, in a far(4) away place, like further(5) than you’ve ever been before in your life far(6).”
This preface will be ignored and the story will have to stand on it’s own merits
“A while(1) back, a few(2) towns from here.”
This story can be investigated. It’s too recent and too close someone else would need to corroborate that the story is true.
The Second Method of manufacturing creditably is through association. This is target specific and what gives you credibility with one group may make you worth skepticism from another.
Is the Professor from Oxford, Harvard, Yale, the ivy league, Any-town College, or Community College.
Those I’ve met who’ve topped out at a High School diploma provide less credibility the higher up the Academic ladder of Prestige one has climbed. But for those with less than a High School Diploma or more the higher up on Mount Olympus one has climbed and degrees authority from the more credible they are.
Is the best selling author recognized by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Goodreads, or Amazon.
The NYT list is a curated list and lends itself to a higher amount of credibility to those outside the publishing industry. Publishers Weekly list is mostly data driven and objective but there are clear cases of advertisers (cough Disney, big 5) consistently placing high even when there numbers may* not be reflected by Amazon’s sales numbers of the same titles. But Amazon has many different categories and in order to have a best seller author’s may have in the past incorrectly categorized their works and personally bought just a dozen copies to claim the top spot and become a number one best seller. Which is why it ranks lowest in credibility even if the top spot was truly earned for a hard category like Fantasy or Romance, it’s impossible to tell those Amazon bestsellers from Fictional Johnny who listed his fantasy novel under Contemporary Fiction.
Amazon is currently testing Amazon Author Rank as a replacement for their individual category best selling lists. Which means that going forward if the system will be much harder to game but the damage to their reputation will be persistent. This is a good thing for Amazon’s reputation but a bad thing for upcoming Authors who are now competing in the back pages of for potential readers attention. It means that J.K. Rowling will be the Most Popular Fantasy Author even if she never writes another book in here life. Her work will rank at the top spot for decades to come because if this is how readers are introduced to the fantasy section they may just start from the top and give her eight points over her nearest competitor. Sad times really as independent authors job to get notice just got much harder.
The last method I’ve found is introduction and vouching.
“Have you met my friend Jane she is a classically trained Pianist.”
Now it doesn’t matter if any of that is true. It doesn’t matter if my and the Target are friends. All that matters is someone has vouched for Jane and her credibility. Even If I am a known liar and Jane looks disheveled and perhaps homeless. What matters is the Jane’s credibility is TWO v. ONE. And the target’s resistance to the group is all that stands in the way of Jane being the an authority of whether Handel’s Messiah can be played with only the left handle.
This is credibility through group authority. Essentially the more people you have one your side the more credible you are. A tactic of politics, Head cheerleaders, and Ceo’s who have more than one assist in entourage. The more people eyes nodding in agreement the higher the credibility of the speaker.
Did you hire a cameraman to follow you around, How about a whole camera crew.
Those are the method’s I’ve learned about Manufacturing Credibility.
I heard it from a friend of a friend that this is true.
As a Harvard professor: “this is true.”
“Meet Jane she’s an authority on the subject and she says that this is true.”
but none of these are in themselves true though they are highly credible.