Author Topic: Discussing Politics  (Read 14371 times)

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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Discussing Politics
« Reply #25 on: August 20, 2019, 13:52:10 »

Expert communities are grappling with the fact that the internet has, for the first time in recorded history, generally put all recorded knowledge at a person's fingertips.  Never mind the fact that many people don't know how to use that tool properly (but think they do...see Dunning-Kruger).  Prior to the internet, one of the reasons experts were experts is that they had spent copious amounts of time reading and writing on something that was generally inaccessible to the public.  Now that subject matter mostly is, and experts have lost the monopoly on "access," and need to think how they balance the fact that others have the access, but likely not the familiarity and the experience, with a specific subject matter.  While many folks may not have the "talent" to use material they've accessed on the internet to actually challenge expertise, I have no doubt that some folks do.

The classic example is the patient in the doctor's office who has done some reading on potential treatment options for his or her condition.  Now, without familiarity and experience, they are not likely to understand why the doctor will prescribe treatment X, but at the same time, the Doctor is likely going to have to understand that he or she will have to answer questions of a patient who has access (but not familiarity and experience) to information on health issues.  This is a different relationship between expert and the average layperson.

A failure to properly police the profession will also legitimately hurt the perception of experts.  Take dentists for example; traditionally, not as well governed as medicine, and prone to advice/treatments with no basis in science (see - I have access!).  My wife has went through an experience with a bad dentist, and now has a suspicion of the profession as a whole.  If a profession can't sort its house out, then how can it expect everyone to listen to what it has to say?

Finally, the proliferation of experts can't help either (the article mentions this).  Now that universities have become degree-factories, vice houses of a liberal arts education, we are bombarded with folks that claim to be experts because they have a PhD in something banal.  Expertise should be (1) challenging to achieve and (2) offer some value to society.  I'm not sure all of our experts fit those categories.

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Expert communities are grappling with the fact that the internet has, for the first time in recorded history, generally put all recorded knowledge at a person's fingertips.

I hear echoes of priests and lawyers bewailing those infernal meddlers Gutenberg, Caxton and Knox.  Now everybody can read the texts and draw their own conclusions.  Like as not similar objections were raised when people started writing vernacular bibles (Jerome's latin being among the first back in 300 AD).  Control and dissemination of knowledge and opinion is not a new debate.

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The classic example is the patient in the doctor's office who has done some reading

Plus side, for the doctor, the patient may have a basis in vocabulary to understand what the doctor is saying.
Minus side, for the doctor, the patient may have a basis in vocabulary to understand what the doctor is saying.

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A failure to properly police the profession will also legitimately hurt the perception of experts

Of what profession was James Watt?  He was a watchmakers apprentice that took some night classes at university in Glasgow.  He and Matthew Bolton industrialized the world.  Could say something the same about Bill Gates.

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Finally, the proliferation of experts can't help either

The proliferation of knowledge, and of people, will necessarily generate more experts.  The question is not one of proliferation, the question is one of identification.

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Now that universities have become degree-factories, vice houses of a liberal arts education, we are bombarded with folks that claim to be experts because they have a PhD

The vast majority of universities have always been degree-factories.  Their primary function was to instruct clerics in catechism and generate authorized practitioners.  The liberal arts university was a function of the Reformation and the Enlightenment.

Again, what university determined the expertise of Watt, or of Gates?

Most people find experts by word of mouth from people they trust having successfully engaged someone who solved their problems.  Those people may, or may not, be accredited.





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Re: Discussing Politics
« Reply #26 on: August 27, 2019, 09:44:29 »
I just read an excellent article (courtesy of Col (ret'd) Howard Coombs :salute:), posted by West Point's Modern War Institute.  Although not specifically about politics, it does provide insight on reading and thinking.

Jacob Olidort, "War Books: It’s Not Just What You Read, But How You Read."   LINK
[Caveat:  he does refer to himself as an "expert"   ;) ]
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“How” to read seems a strange and perhaps even condescending way to propose a book list. However, given that reading takes time, and that those who might have the most use for good reads often have little time and long lists to go through, as well as many outlets to consult (including blogs, tweets, recommendations), it might be more useful to reflect on how I go about choosing what books I read and how I consume information.
Being an avid reader, I found his breakdown of books intriguing: 1.  Books on how to think -- with a subset on thinking about strategy;  2.  Books on how to write -- which, even without ambitions to be an author, is about communicating;  and 3.  Books on how to live -- which aren't self-help books, but concern "individuals who have lived big (not necessarily long) lives and who have lessons to impart."   All three sections had readily recognizable titles.

His 'daily reading' and 'homework reading' habits are also very familiar, (naturally I have to add to his lists my recurring favourite, The Economist  :) ), although I find I have little time for non-fiction, and I haven't gotten into audio books.  Altogether, an interesting article.
It should now be obvious that running a country is NOT an entry-level job.  [Yes, it applies to both sides of our border]