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Posted by on Jun 5, 2021 in Blog, Book Reviews, Politics | 0 comments

The Death of Expertise





Dumpsters are overflowing.

There’s a quantifiable link between the popularity of memes and the depths of misinformation on Facebook. And, there’s just as much junk-food-for-the-mind posted on YouTube.

In fact, those deleterious distractions make you much dumber. It’s sorta’ like being stuck inside a closet, turning out the lights, and then being ceaselessly exposed to flashes of L. Ron Hubbard hoisting a Bible and waving a flag. That’s the current state of social media, especially inside the frightfully dangerous dungeons CONSERVATIVE social media platforms which are littered with bozo opportunists who traffic in gaslighting. This constant stream of spoon-fed disinformation by the architects of angst is steadily warping minds. It has become the greatest threat to democracy. Poison.

That’s a bold statement since social media was supposed to make us all smarter. Instead, the landscape has become mass clutter. Open your own Facebook feed and scroll. Friends. Family. Facebook and Twitter are full of so-called “self-taught experts” on every topic. Soccer moms who haven’t taken a science course in 30 years know more than scientists. Softball dads with no medical knowledge or training know more than medical professionals. Couples who can’t balance a checkbook know more about economics. Academics are ridiculed. Intellectuals are labeled as elitists. The mainstream media is maligned, not to be trusted, they say. Instead, trust me. Hey, check out this meme. Watch this 3-minute video.

Everyone’s now equipped with an M.S. in speed-reading and a Ph.D. in Google. Not that we can all return to college, which has become grotesquely expensive (and would be impossible for most). No doubt, the desire for lifelong learning is a laudable thing. We can learn on our own. But let’s also recognize the severe limitations of being our own teachers.

There’s one thing you get with a real education that you don’t get with your own independent research, and that is one word — testing. In a real college or university, you don’t just read a textbook or listen to a lecture; you face grueling assignments and exams designed to test your understanding, all of which include the possibility of failure. So, reading a book is not enough; you must PROVE that you understood it. If a university were like the average “self-taught” expert’s regimen, there would be no exams, no tests, no assignments. They’d just tell you to read the text and then assume that you understood.

Let me ask: Would you trust a medical doctor who graduated from such a program? Would you agree to be operated on by someone who watched YouTube videos? Of course not. So by all means, people SHOULD try to learn on their own because it does expand horizons and keep minds sharp — but please don’t pretend that it’s the same as being a qualified expert, because it’s not. If you think you understand thermodynamics and somebody with university training in the subject insists you’ve got it all wrong, don’t try to bluff your way through the argument. Shut the fuck up and listen to what he has to say. A meme isn’t an exam. Facebook isn’t a classroom. YouTube is not a university.

I read this book, “The Death of Expertise” back in 2017 (thanks to Paul Harris, who did an interview with the author on his show). Sadly, the conditions described are now even more troubling.

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