The only thing necessary for the triumph
of good is for good people to cooperate
The Tyranny of the Experts
by Sean Gangol
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
I look back on my college days when I took a required civics course on American Government. It was an eye-opening experience for me because it showed me the mentality of those who took their liberties for granted. I also remember how our instructor got on the subject of why Europeans think so little of Americans. One of the reasons is that we are perceived as obnoxious. Why? She told us one story where American tourists were obnoxiously dancing on tables in some bar in whatever foreign country that they were visiting. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at how ridiculous it was for Europeans to label us all with one broad brush. Then she said that Europeans think we are wasteful because they are the type that wash their cars with one water bucket, while Americans use gallons of water sprayed from a garden house. Yeah, whatever. I have also found it interesting that Americans are also perceived as arrogant, yet we never tell Europeans how to run their countries, like they do with us. Most Americans don’t even give a second thought about what goes on in Europe.
The one revelation that I found somewhat telling was the idea that every American considers themselves an expert, while the citizens of European countries believe that only a select group have the qualifications to claim that title. It’s not to say there isn’t a certain amount of truth to this notion. It drives me insane when I have to hear some moron who spouts drivel such as “Roosevelt did save us from the Depression. I know because I read a snippet from a government school textbook” Or “I know Climate Change is real and is going to kill us all because I saw Al Gore’s PowerPoint show (I still refuse to call it a documentary)”. Better yet, “I am a Constitutional scholar because I watch reruns of the West Wing.” My Favorite is “I am an economist because I read the New York Times.” Alright, nobody says it quite like that but that is how their attitudes come off.
Yes, I find it downright painful to hear somebody act like he’s an expert, when he hasn’t done the tenth of the research that I have on the subject. That being said I think the notion of letting the experts do all the thinking is downright ludicrous. It is true that Europeans and certain Canadians like to let the so-called experts do all the thinking. I remember this Canadian woman who posted under the name of Socialist Butterfly on the old My Space forum who called me ignorant, when I said that I didn’t agree with the conclusion made by The World Health Organization on which nation had the best healthcare. When I asked why she called me ignorant, she said it was because I ignored a conclusion made by experts. There was also a British soccer player on the forum, who was much more polite than that snooty woman from Canada, but he couldn’t comprehend how I could possibly question the self-proclaimed experts who resided at the WHO either. I would later come to realization that I probably shouldn’t have wasted my time arguing with a fool who called herself Socialist Butterfly. I also realized that I should have asked the nice soccer player from Great Britain how one is to decide who the experts are.
I did ask that Canadian socialist how one is to determine which side is right when there is conflicting information. I pointed to the book “The Cure” that was written by a doctor who worked under both the Canadian and American system of healthcare. He wrote that while American healthcare had room for improvement, it was actually far better than the system practiced in Canada. I then pointed out that since the doctor worked under both systems of healthcare, it would technically make him an expert on the issue. It’s funny how she quickly dropped the subject and refused to acknowledge my arguments. It’s been my experience that when people cite experts, they only cite the kind that can confirm their own biases.
I am also amazed at how people can assume that all so-called experts are on the up and up. Seriously, how can anyone be naïve enough to believe that any self-proclaimed expert doesn’t have a hidden agenda? Back in the fifties people were actual gullible enough to believe some hack psychologist who claimed that comic books were the cause of juvenile delinquency. The only evidence he offered to support his absurd claim was the fact that every single delinquent that he interviewed read comic books. I have always wondered if candy bars and soda had been established as the common link instead of comics, would that same “expert” claim that Hersey and Coca-Cola were the real culprits to juvenile delinquency? Not only did his claim have no grounds, but he claimed that Batman and Robin had a homoerotic relationship and even implied that Wonder Woman may be a lesbian, since she didn’t act like a “proper woman.” He even managed to call Superman a fascist. You have to wonder how anyone was able to take this hack serious, when it was apparent that this guy had plenty of cards that he wasn’t showing. Sadly, people did buy into his nonsense and that was how we ended up with a self-censoring organization known as the Comics Code.
I also find it mind boggling that anybody can assume that just because one may have some sort of expertise in a certain area that it must mean that person is completely infallible. If that were the case then meteorologists would have a much a better track record at predicting weather. I know some would whine “That’s not fair, Sean. Weather is unpredictable.” As true as that may be, it still shows that it is possible for an expert in any given field to be proven wrong. If you take a look at the scientific articles published in peer reviewed journals, half of them end up being discredited by other experts in that same field. While it is certainly possible for an expert to know his field of study and have the best intentions, there is still the possibility that he could be wrong about the hypothesis that he puts forward.
What people need to realize is that the experts are people, who are by nature fallible. They can make mistakes. They can have agendas that are less than savory. So, the idea of letting the experts do all the thinking, while never questioning their intentions or competency is flat-out dangerous. There were many experts who believed in eugenics, which is something that no mainstream scientist would support in this day and age. While I am not at all fond of the know-nothings who spew out nonsense, there are times when I will take their wisdom over of the brain-washed fools who blindly follow the wisdom of self-proclaimed experts.
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