A Word to the Wise

Just a thought . . .

This morning I read an article written by a PhD discussing the psychological nuances surrounding how children learn; his column included how kids should properly be reared through various childhood situations. As I read the article I laughed to myself thinking that the person's analysis was off-base and somewhat subjective. Still, the author wrote as if he/she were an expert so I read on until the end.

It was at the conclusion of the article that I discovered the person's academic credentials: their doctorate was in theology. I'm not saying a theology degree is worthless [cough, cough] but it is somewhat disingenuous to speak as if you're an authority on a topic when you're merely a hack.*

This made me think about the voices to which we listen. Apparently this PhD has quite a following— there are people who lap up his/her opinions like a thirsty dog in the middle of summer— even though he/she is frequently misguided. This reading experience leads me to offer two observations for you.

1. Not everyone is an expert on everything Just because someone SPEAKS authoritatively doesn't mean that they ARE an authority. When you read a column or listen to a personality, there's a good chance that they have absolutely no significant knowledge about what they're talking about. Sure, there are people who know a little about a lot [Steve raises his hand], but I'd rather hear from those who know a lot about a little. As someone whose expertise is rather small, I try to know the limitations on my experience and knowledge. I'll offer up my opinion freely, but I watch myself so that I don't claim that they're anything more than opinions.

By the way, this is why you should beware of only reading books by certain authors or listening to certain speakers. A little diversity in your diet will do you well.

Still, there is another point that we need to grasp:

2. Not no one isn't an expert on nothing I'm sure my more grammatically-minded readers just stopped reading this post but for those left behind, stick with me. My point is that there is knowledge in our world that can be obtained. There are people out there who have devoted lifetimes studying certain subjects. Sure, there is always a subjective element to each person's epistemology [that's not a cuss word], but you cannot dismiss it altogether. I know some highly skeptical people who refuse to listen to anyone other than themselves because they're deconstructionist. I don't want to go all philosophical/X-Files here, but the truth IS out there. We should be on the lookout for wisdom wherever it might be.

Of course, I guess you could dismiss the whole post as coming from someone who has no idea what he's talking about.

Do as you must.


*I should say, in case you're wondering, that the PhD was not expounding the biblical method of child rearing but was spouting off pop psychology, so he/she was way outside of his/her expertise.