“Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” –Legendary physicist Richard Feynman
I got the most important lesson I ever received from formal education from my favorite college prof of all time – – –
“I have a PhD, so you must respect my opinion on all things,” Dr. Renton told us on the first day of class.
“I got my PhD on the exfoliation of rock, that is, on how and why outside layers of rock flake off as a result of water and alternate heat and cold. You have absolutely no idea how exciting that is,” he said, vehemently shaking his head, “NO!”
“But when I give my opinion on that very narrow subject, you should take my word for it.”
He later confessed that even in exfoliation, he was likely out of date. Reinventing Collapse: ... Best Price: $3.92 Buy New $1.99 (as of 10:45 EST - Details)
“Traditionally, experts miss the big picture,” he told us.
“To get my PhD, for example, I didn’t have much time for dating. That’s probably why I’m still single,” he said, looking around the room, perhaps sizing up some of the co-eds to fill the vacancy.
“When I go to parties, they usually introduce me as ‘Doctor Renton.’ People immediately begin asking me what they should do for their arthritis, lumbago, and insomnia. I’ve thought about having some fun with that, but I don’t have malpractice insurance.
“I’m relieved when no one asks me about geology. If it isn’t about exfoliation and they read a lot, they might know more than I do and embarrass me.
“I’m much more comfortable having a conversation about things I don’t have a degree in. Then people don’t expect me to be an ‘expert,’ whatever that is.
“Baseball is good. It’s been my hobby since I was a kid collecting baseball cards. I don’t have a degree in baseball, but I’ll smoke the competition. Especially on the Chicago Cubs. Just for starters, I can cite the stats for the whole team for the last ten years.”
He apparently read our expressions of mild skepticism correctly. That’s a LOT of stats.
He had a yearbook of some sort with a lot of Cubbies stats in it on his desk. I don’t think it was there just by chance. He handed it to a front-row student.
“Don’t believe me? Try me out.”
We did and he could.
The ancient Greeks knew – – –
Athens distributed its most responsible public positions by lottery: army generalships, water supply, everything. …Professionals existed but did not make key decisions; they were only technicians, never well regarded because prevailing opinion held that technicians had enslaved their own minds. –The Way It Used To Be by John Taylor Gatto
Some Native Americans have a similar outlook.
From an Indian perspective, the “priesthood” nature of Western science is anathema. My own tradition disbelieves in “experts.” “That which enables, disables also” means that a physicist will fail in understanding in many other areas, precisely because of the amount of time she/he spends on physics and therefore not on other things. Such people are not considered “experts,” but “those extensively informed on part of the whole“. They are listened to not on a priesthood basis, but on the basis of their having information others may not yet have… –A NATIVE AMERICAN WORLDVIEW, by Paula Underwood Spencer
And, from the American perspective – – - The Camp of the Saints Best Price: $69.24 Buy New $52.65 (as of 01:10 EST - Details)
“…everything is too important ever to be entrusted to professional experts, because every organization of such professionals and every established social organization becomes a vested-interest institution more concerned with its efforts to maintain itself or advance its own interests than to achieve the purpose that society expects it to achieve.” –Carroll Quigley, ex-president William Jefferson Clinton’s mentor
“You’ve just received one of the most valuable lessons you’ll get from formal education,” PhD Renton told us.
He was right. Let’s hear it for Dr. Renton!
Now you know how to handle an expert, keep that in mind, and always remember to question so-called “Authority!”
HERE for updates, additions, comments, and corrections.
AND, “Like,” “Tweet,” and otherwise, pass this along!