Whom Do You Trust?

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Americans are both social butterflies who actively volunteer and nervous neighbors who are highly distrustful of each other and their government, according to a study released Thursday by the ubiquitous Pew Research Center. Almost two-thirds of Americans said they had volunteered in the last month, and one-third had been to a public affairs meeting in the last year. Yet even the most active volunteers said they are suspicious of others, especially the government. Whom do they trust? For some reason, their family, fellow church members, local fire departments and bosses. The study's results challenged the highly publicized "Bowling Alone" essay by Harvard Professor Robert Putnam, who in 1995 claimed that Americans were increasingly isolated from social situations since participation in civic organizations has seen sharp declines in recent years. These days, Americans are more likely to join in self-help groups, book clubs, internet bulletin board groups and softball games, most of which can provide the same bonding that larger fraternal groups did for generations. See you online.