“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”- Luke 11:52
I have had a number of curious interactions recently. The finer points of the interaction vary but it all begins when I make a common-sense statement. These statements have included but are not limited to such things as:
Masking is tough on kids–
Men who become women still have male DNA-
It’s questionable whether or not that proposed law would even pass constitutional muster.
The second the words come out of my mouth the smug little wisenheimer I’m speaking with demands in a very chippy manner I produce my early childhood education degree, medical degree, or law degree or whatever stupid degree they deem necessary to continue the conversation. I then point out, as politely as I am able—that no one really needs a degree in a particular field—or any field for that matter to know whether or not what I said is true. My statement clearly falls under the heading of common sense, common knowledge or empirical wisdom. Nine times out of ten at this point in the conversation the smug little wisenheimer will roll their beady little eyes and tell me to come back when I’m qualified to give an opinion. I’m convinced we are witnessing the death of wisdom.
These exchanges literally make me insane. Literally. Because, if one were to take this lunacy to its logical end-game in order to make a statement such as “I had a dog with the exact same symptoms and it turned out to be mange” one would need to be a veterinarian. Or if you wanted to say: “children ought to eat something besides candy and hotdogs three meals a day” one would have to be a nutritionist or have a degree in early childhood development.
I have nothing against knowledge, education or experts. In fact, I am all for knowledge. I love education. Experts are awesome and at times necessary. Furthermore, I am convinced wise people freely admit when they are dealing with a situation above their pay-grade or outside of their expertise. Intelligent people consult multiple counselors before forming an opinion or making a decision (Proverbs 11:14, Proverbs 15:22, Proverbs 24:6).
There are a lot of potential problems with choosing to only take advice from an expert. For one thing, who exactly gets to decide who the expert is? Do we all get to pick our own expert? Or are the people in power the people who decide who the experts are? Is it you? Or is it the people in the media? Or your Mother?
It would be easy to settle on education as the qualifier for title of expert.
However, education alone cannot be the only deciding factor in what constitutes an expert, there are lots of folks who have similar or even identical educational experiences who have differing opinions on nearly every subject. Who is or is not an expert in a particular field can and often is politicized in our increasingly political culture. It’s just a fact that one political administration may have an entirely different take on what makes a person an expert than the one before or after it.
Experts are most useful when they are totally unbiased or operating completely without an agenda of any kind. This is rare because experts aren’t robots or computer programs. Experts are just fallible human beings who spent a lot of time in school being taught by other fallible human beings. Unfortunately, people—even people with a great deal of education can be corrupted by money, media attention and/or the promise of power. Experts can be bought. It happens all the time. Experts are also prone to having biases that may or may not be grounded in facts. Experts have experiences that can turn them in a particular direction. Experts can be also swayed by peer pressure.
Experts are sometimes just plain wrong. It was experts in the early 20th century that claimed certain races were genetically inferior to other races. This belief led to the holocaust. It was experts that assured us margarine was healthier than butter. It was theology experts in the middle ages who claimed common people were too stupid to understand the Bible for themselves. It was medical experts in the 1940’s who said baby formula was superior to human breast milk.
By far, the biggest problem with placing all our trust in “experts” is doing so demands we stop thinking for ourselves. Sadly, not thinking has become endemic in our society. Many have simply shut off their brains and let the experts decide what’s best and it’s not working out real well for anyone. Our society is falling apart at the seams despite all the “experts” we have advising us.
We have forgotten the hard truth that each one of us is ultimately responsible before God for the choices we make. No one gets to blame an “expert” for the consequences of a poor choice on judgment day. God blessed us with brains and He expects them to be used. We have to wake up and recognize the fact that anytime we stop thinking for ourselves we become a sitting duck for those looking to deceive. Instead of placing our trust in the experts we ought to go back to the age-old practice of seeking out a multitude of opinions, analyzing the data, praying like crazy for wisdom before deciding for ourselves.