“Beware the experts.” Rafe Mair (1931-2017) was a small C provincial conservative and radio broadcaster who moved more and more GREEN as he aged. But, as a lawyer and politician, he was outspoken, sane, a smidge biased towards the status quo but still fair and, at times, more than just a little progressive. Rafe was a free-thinker. Rafe is famous for many things but, to me, it was the phrase quoted above, “Beware the experts!” Rafe inherently understood that the experts were not only NOT always right, but also that ‘expert opinion’ could be bought.
We have relied on the experts to guide us through all sorts of things and, usually, they get us muddled through enough but more and more they are NOT getting the job done (climate change, pandemics, economy, homelessness, policing, drug addiction, the list is endless). Just recently, Trudeau-the-international-political-expert we have chosen to lead us offered to proportionately fund the C-19 virus vaccine research so that Canada could be on the list of first recipients when a vaccine was finally approved. Three of the four leading pharmaceutical labs are American. Trump-the-US-expert said, “No way am I helping that sh***y Trudeau”. So much for smile-power and political expertise Justin…..
Two weeks ago, masks were not mandatory and travel was not restricted. Today, our experts have ‘flipped’. Now masks are mandatory and we are travel restricted. Asia went all-mask-all-the-time from the get go. Some expertise….
But it is more than just that….way more than that……
While it is true that we have chosen to listen to Trump and his experts and Trudeau and his experts despite overwhelming evidence of their incompetence, we have also chosen to listen to Tam and Fauci and Henry despite their sad and tragic lack of success on this virus threat. We have also chosen to delegate most significant social issues to ‘other’ experts who’s primary manifestation of expertise seems to be that they get paid a lot of money and have degrees while attending endless meetings.
Wanna hear some real, deep-seated dumb experts? Go ask the ‘drug experts’ about the right approach to the less visible drug-addiction pandemic. Or homelessness advocates on how to deal with that issue.
And how many experts meet how many times in how many places to further discuss climate change? Duh!
The real problem with trusting the experts is that it eats up great gobs of time and casts us in the role of mindless, do-nothing sheep, the great unwashed and the ultimately madding crowd. We are the herd. Individually, we do not want to take the heavy, socially-defined responsibility (that requires a huge undertaking of degree collecting and politicking) for everyone else and – THIS IS THE CRAZY PART – we are equally as reluctant, hesitant, resistant to even taking responsibility for OURSELVES!!!
And that is the worst part: we have abdicated our own responsibilities to our institutions and so-called experts. In experts we trust – at increasingly greater and greater risk to ourselves.
BEWARE the experts. They are often self-proclaimed, they are biased by ambition and faith, they are motivated by money and they are only a smidge more technically capable in their field than a keen reader and/or Google-searcher. At the same time, they are infamous for having blind spots and insecurities along with a string of caveats to hide behind when their expertise proves wrong. In other words, experts not only do NOT know their always-changing topic all that well, they are so entrenched in the system that they are comfortably sitting atop, they can’t think outside the box they built.
“Who would you trust, then, smarty pants?”
Good point. Even if you choose to take up your own personal responsibility on some matters, you will naturally seek the advice of others and, even if you do your own research, you are still reading the words of ‘experts’. Trusting experts is part of how we learn. Listen to Fauci. Listen to Tam. Listen to Henry. We really should start there.
But it DOES NOT END THERE! LISTENING to the ‘experts’ is only the beginning. One has to go further into a subject – as a rule – just to know the language the experts are speaking. If you go that far, go further…learn something new….then go further….think about those things….then go further, make up your own mind….take some direct actions to satisfy unanswered questions……if you want to hold the experts to account (which rarely happens) then you have to know at least half of what they know (on that topic) and preferably augmented with some new thinking to give yourself a chance.
So, to answer the smarty-pants question….ultimately you have to trust yourself.
Remember, in a crisis, the expert relies heavily on ‘established professional standards and norms’. The expert comes from history, from institutions and professional best-practices. But when the crisis is a new one, without enough precedent, the staid experts are all lacking the means, the ability, the willingness to think creatively. They are mired in the past. They can’t/won’t take that chance – careers are at stake. They are invested in a place that, by definition, is not working but, conflictingly, it is still working for them.
Another great observation: Four star generals are all experts of the previous wars and battles. Enemies are more creative. They fight new wars. The four-star experts on tanks and anti-aircraft guns are anachronyms today. Examples: it seems we are currently at war with ‘computer-based’ enemies (state sponsored and free enterprise). Worse, we are currently also at war with a disease. And all our trusted tools are more than just a little rusty.
Beware the experts. For God’s sake, beware the experts.
“Dave, why would you go on about that…? Now?
To my mind, we do not think freely enough. We obey our masters too readily. We do not question them. We do not think we know enough to even think about what they are telling us. Oddly, that is NOT the largest part of the problem. The largest part is that we stop there. We continue to believe in them even as the body bags add up. We are going to sink or swim in this together sounds noble but it is also stupid. I am not a lemming. Tests of survival have taught us differently. To survive in the face of a dire and imminent threat requires either 100% total teamwork and cooperation (herd mentality supporting dedicated, intelligent institutions and noble experts) or else one has to get as much information as one can and then MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND. I am inclined to the latter approach.
“Dave! Aren’t you suggesting behaving like a Bubba?”
Yes, to some extent, and most definitely NO. Yes, because the Bubbas are 100% suspicious and cynical and so am I. And they and I have some legitimate cause for that. But NO because the Bubbas have not learned anything factual or discovered new ways of dealing with things. They do not think or do. They are NOT constructive. They just pose with rifles and accuse others. They are just as locked into the system – but locked in as ‘rejecters’ rather than ‘believers’.
I am saying that, by free and focused individualistic thinking, you can improve the situation better and faster taking all the available information, rejecting all the weird conspiracies and propaganda and making some good, life, direct-action choices that make sense to you. If you are wrong (and we will all be wrong to some extent), then change it up, fix it and try again.