If I uncover one more irony of life, I’m going to drown in my own tears. This is just exhausting! Follow my thought here for just a second: if you’re a skeptic, then you’re sure that the data you’re looking at it wrong and the person in position of authority (aka expert) showing it to you is off his/her rocker. So does that in turn make you a figure of authority?
Anyways, the point I wanted to make was that I am growing weary of authoritativeness. For example, I read on SI.com that the Pats were favored to win the Colts in a high-scoring game. They ended up fighting for their lives with a sliver of a 4 point lead. So the guy that is getting paid big bucks to make these silly predictions just got it wrong. I haven’t done the research so don’t hold my feet to the fire, but I am sure if you checked out the accuracy of the predictions made over the past years, you’d find a lousy track record of almost any one. True, some would be more accurate than the others, but none like Reality, which gets its predictions right every single time 🙂
I am slowly shying away from these experts. True, their logic, research and presentation is really good but that comes from their years of practice. This is the same when say you walk into a drab government office and the person across the desk hemming and hawing when you are puzzled about the paperwork process. You’d think – hey YOU work there, not me! How am I supposed to know how it works?!
My blog, Experiments – Trial by FIRE! is about this very topic. I believe that you and me are both engaged in experiments on a daily basis, as much as the Product Managers at say Microsoft are; we’re all not that much different. The distinction comes from a need standpoint. You don’t need to figure out what hot button needs to go on the next version of Word. But that doesn’t make that person smarter than you in any way, shape or form. I find it hard to be an authority on anything! There is so much complexity in anything these days, from sports to development to human resources. Life is far more complicated. I also agree with the notion that knowledge builds with time – individuals build their knowledge base and so does society. That is probably how we progress and you don’t have to relearn every time how to put the car in reverse, how the use a credit card in the supermarket or that a large supermarket can sell more by accepting more than just cash.
But if someone stands out, points out to their expertise on a subject, I will beg to differ. In business, Jack Welch is revered. He got a bunch of things wrong. You can recall that popular philosophers and scientists swore (and developed hypotheses) that the world was flat. While I am not suggesting that you have to start from scratch on every single thing, I am just highlighting the fact that while an “expert” has spent considerable time on a subject or subjects, blindly accepting what they say may not particularly be good for your health.
So are you an experimenter? Someone who is kind of skeptic and tries things on his/her own? Or are you an Authority who claims deep knowledge of a subject? In the pool of all knowledge, how large do you think it is? Is it an ocean or just a drop? Is your own personal ocean of knowledge (granted, it is VERY large and larger than mine), isn’t it still a drop in the ocean of total knowledge? It is the same feeling I get when I am in an airplane on it’s approach to landing.
Aren’t we inconsequential? Don’t get depressed, we are not inconsequential when it comes to personal truths; we’re just inconsequential when it comes to the whole.