Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

How experts make us dumb

Think for yourself! That’s a common sentiment promoted today especially in western civilization. While I notice the concept is frequently promoted I’m not sure the advice is put into practice much.

On the one hand atheism is said to be on the rise in the United States, and Europe is well known for reaching a post-Christian era. One might interpret this as an indication people actually are thinking for themselves. On the other hand, intellectual laziness is astronomically high and still growing, and so is fear of challenging a politically correct narrative.

Experts promote this tragedy in our society and the rest of us help them do it. Experts often try to make themselves appear sophisticated and smart by using elevated jargon when speaking to people outside their field of expertise. Of course it makes no sense using buzzwords for a highly specialized discipline when speaking to the uninitiated, at least not if the goal is to effectively communicate. But the goal evidently is not to effectively communicate. Instead the goal is often to intimidate or impress, or both.

Emotionally charged controversies are the preferred playground for this intellectual pretense. Experts in economics, the soft social sciences, physics, etc. often tout their credentials and experience in ways intended to discourage disagreement. Experts often see what they want to see and blithely dismiss dissenting views rather than discuss specifics. Granted, even experts are only human, so when they make mistakes they typically don’t want to admit it any more than you or I would. And when the general public treats the expert opinion with skepticism we should not be surprised to be met with some form of expertism: the allegation that because we are not experts in the field we cannot possibly know what we are talking about; so our views don’t count for much.

So we, the uneducated masses, apparently cannot know that one of the most basic things a medical professional ought to do before administering care to read the patient’s chart (failing to do this turns out to be an alarmingly common mistake). And we, being chronically uneducated, cannot know that a nation cannot pull itself out of an economic slump by spending its way into oblivion – since numerous experts insist it can.

So while experts try to bully the people into thinking we cannot know what we are talking about when we disagree with them, we the people often end up reinforcing this myth as well.

In physics, for example, Stephen Hawking, arguably one of the smartest people in the world, asserts the universe created itself out of nothing. Think about that. The cosmic equivalent of spontaneous generation is this expert’s preferred explanation about how the universe got here. And people who don’t understand the math, don’t know what he’s talking about, and most of whom haven’t even read his book The Grand Design blindly accept Hawking’s word for it. There is no empirical evidence of any kind supporting Hawking’s explanation. It isn’t even testable (which means it doesn’t qualify as science) and most people who accept this idea have never heard any criticism of it (from religious and secular people alike, from philosophical and scientific view points). Many people unquestioningly believe it simply because Hawking said it. So much for thinking for oneself. This is blind faith, the unthinking, mindless approach to the world which theists are typically accused of practicing. But because Hawking’s explanation doesn’t need God it automatically gains credibility where, scientifically speaking, it has not earned it.

Additionally, Hawking has pompously and erroneously argued that philosophy is dead. Of course, the unthinking masses willing to believe his theory of the universe are not likely to recognize the flaw in this philosophical argument. Merely saying “think about that statement” is not likely to have the intended effect so I’ll explain it.

The statement “philosophy is dead” is not something that can be scientifically tested. In fact, Hawking’s comment is itself not even a scientific statement, but a philosophical one. So he uses philosophy to claim philosophy is dead, thus proving his own statement false. Hawking, as brilliant a scientist as he is, makes basic, elementary errors in his philosophy. Instead of showing philosophy to be dead, Hawking reveals his own ignorance and bias on things outside the area of his expertise, and raises questions as to the reliability of his expertise as well. We should not be surprised to find Hawking mistakenly believes the premise of his “The Grand Design” is scientific, when in fact it is inherently philosophical. As Einstein said, the man of science makes a poor philosopher. Hawking proves this publicly for all the world to see.

Climate science suffers from much the same problem. Chris Landsea, former chief scientist at the National Hurricane Center, in 2005 resigned from his position with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) due to the panel’s willingness to embrace poor science and political corruption of the scientific process. On the other side of the coin, the former chair of the IPCC Rajendra Pachauri (who resigned in 2015 due to sexual scandals) declared climate change is his religion. But if you were to suggest climate change has been happening for as long as the planet has existed you can be sure to be labeled a “denier” or “anti-science”. Climate science is riddled with propaganda and corruption, and dissent is punished. Yet we are supposed to think climate science is real science, pure and incorruptible. Look at how many stories we’ve read or seen touting global warming doctrine as if it were infallible, all with the knowledge we are likely to be ridiculed if not worse for challenging that doctrine. What else does it mean to claim “the science is settled” if not to try to stop people from thinking beyond the narrative?

We now have a narrative conflating the latest views of gender with civil rights. Anyone who bothers to question this narrative is instantly labeled a bigot. As with gay activists, transgender activist rely on bully tactics to silence those who dare think for themselves on these issues. The threat of ruination was the hallmark of activism on the gay marriage issue, where any independent thinking would be labeled as unthinking hatred and punished. The what 0.3 percent? of the population that may be transgender gets to force the rest of us to accommodate any number of questionable premises. Never mind if the majority are made uncomfortable; the concerns of 0.3 percent trump everyone else’s concerns. So don’t bother asking thoughtful questions like what happens if straight male pranksters or perverts (falsely claiming to identify as female) see this latest social issue as an opportunity to exploit? Recording video of women in the restroom or shower and posting it online is one of the less egregious problems we are inviting upon ourselves, but such a violation of privacy is no small thing. Yet as long as the rights of the 99.7 percent are ignored while we are misdirected with a questionable narrative, we can pretend everyone is being treated equally by the rash effort to change public policy to accommodate the ever changing feelings of a tiny minority.

Andrea Mitchell (NBC News) shows us another example of experts making people dumb. For months, Hillary Clinton has been playing the gender card to help her presidential campaign. She portrays herself as a defender of women. But because our society tends to blindly accept the dominant narrative of the major news sources (CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, NYT, etc.) most people simply forget what happened even a few weeks ago. For example, during the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton had his panoply of sex scandals (the allegations turned out to be true) Hillary defended her husband by defaming any woman who spoke up about the sexual abuse. We were told absurdities like a “vast rightwing conspiracy” was out to get her husband. Contrast that with her more recent comments about how survivors of sexual assault have the right to be heard and believed. Not only do many forget how Hillary treated survivors of sexual assault in the 1990s, there is one case in particular which receives little attention at all.

Juanita Broaddrick’s story got scant attention. President Clinton denied her allegation that he raped her. He also denied all the other allegations of various forms of sexual harassment and assault. Yet, this denial seems to be enough for Andrea Mitchell to think Broaddrick’s story has been “discredited”. When? How? By whom? Mitchell doesn’t seem to realize that hiding from a story is not the same as discrediting it.

In light of the Bill Cosby sex scandal I challenged some liberals on social media. I pointed out how they are surprisingly concerned with allegations against him, given their profound lack of interest in allegations against Bill Clinton. And this was confirmed, with admissions that they didn’t care about the allegations against the former president. Callous excuses such as “it was just one allegation” were thrown about.

But hold a second. The idea that women would lie about sexual issues like this was unconscionable prior to Bill Clinton’s presidency. For those who don’t recall the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, HBO is sure to skew your view of history even further with a loaded dramatization of questionable historical accuracy. In point of fact, the Clarence Thomas scandal received exactly the opposite response from liberals. There was little concern for evidence of any allegation. Instead, the concern was over the “seriousness of the charge”. The American people were supposed to believe women don’t lie about this sort of thing, so the allegation should be taken at face value, making Thomas unqualified to take a position on the SCOTUS. For President Clinton, the situation was exactly the opposite. We were told a man’s personal life doesn’t affect his professional life (his sexual abuse somehow does not disqualify him to be POTUS) so the allegations should have no impact on his right to be president, and women apparently lie all the time about sexual abuse. So which narrative is true? Andrea Mitchell, acting as an expert in current events and women’s issues, would have you believe which ever narrative helps Hillary Clinton’s current campaign. So we are to ignore the defense of Anita Hill and ignore Hillary’s recent comments about survivors of sexual assault, and pretend Broaddrick’s allegations have been “discredited” though no one can show me how this was done.

In western civilization experts now enjoy an air of respect traditionally reserved for religious leadership. These experts cultivate a religious veneration for their views, and the rest of us let them. Many will gladly keep themselves uninformed (not bothering to do their own homework) and blindly accept what they are told by these experts, whether they be scientific, economic, social, or political experts. And we have to contend with fear and retaliation for not blindly following the predominant narrative of the day. The combination of willful ignorance and unquestioning acceptance of certain points of view makes people dumb. And it happens everyday in our politically correct culture.

Many people keep acting as if they are intelligent and well informed by blindly following the experts. The rest of us commoners with a mere public education are frequently and smugly treated as nincompoops for daring to raise inconvenient questions, all while the virtues of public education are continually sung from the rafters by those same sheep who keep buying what education experts are selling.

Given the frequent disagreement among experts, even among those in the same field, perhaps blindly following them is not such an intelligent decision after all. It is stupid to say people who are thinking for themselves are not thinking, and stupid to say people who are blindly following the crowd are thinking for themselves. But what else should we expect from dumb people?

Please don’t be like that. Don’t be dumb.

corruption, culture, elitism, ideology, indoctrination, opinion, pandering, propaganda, tragedy

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Filed under: corruption, culture, elitism, ideology, indoctrination, opinion, pandering, propaganda, tragedy

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