|Sage Grass & Cedars|
|The Experts Say...|
by Darrell Thompson
Everyday all of us face complex, confusing and sometimes life changing situations in which we wish for someone to show up and remove the complexity with a clear and simple explanation or solution. That’s where the experts come in.
Nothing will make us stop and give our undivided attention like having an expert show up and remove our anxiety. It is as if E.F. Hutton himself popped into a company 401K meeting with hot tip that would make us millionaires by retirement.
There are people who are experts in any field of study or interest that you can imagine. There are also many questions that are unanswered about the experts themselves. Where did they come from and to where and how do they vanish if legitimate questions should arise about their expertise? How did they get to be experts and what do they become after being experts?
Webster defines an expert as someone who has unusual skill or knowledge in a particular field. Some of the country definitions may fit better. I have experts defined by explaining the meaning of the basic parts of the word; ex meaning "has been" and spurt meaning "a drip under pressure." An expert is also described as anyone who is a long distance from home and has a briefcase.
There have been experts around from the dawn of creation. The first expert advised Eve that eating the forbidden fruit was not harmful but actually beneficial. There is no scriptural word on how far from home the serpent was or if he carried a briefcase, though he might have resembled a drip under pressure.
How often have you heard the phrase "many experts agree" in regard to the explanation of a complex issue or question? I have never heard of a situation where all the experts agreed. The truth is that sometimes those who claim to be or are thought to be experts not only disagree but disagree 180 degrees. In that case it is impossible for us mere mortals to tell who the actual experts are, if indeed there are any experts involved at all.
Most of us common folk are required to be fairly accurate in what we say or someone is quick to say (sometimes in an uncomplimentary way) that we don’t know what we are talking about. I find that experts (who have unusual skill and knowledge) are allowed a wide margin of error. For example, I recently read in a news magazine that experts say North Korea has enough enriched uranium to make four to thirteen nuclear bombs. That is a margin of error of 69 to 225%, depending of course on which mathematical expert that you ask. (13 – 4 = 9, 9/13 = 69% or 13 - 4 = 9, 9/4 = 225%) When a deer-hunting buddy tells you he saw deer, at least 4 but could have been 13, you always want a big high hill between where he is hunting and where you are hunting.
It is my observation that most of the time when the word "expert" is used, usually no names are mentioned. There is only the statement that "the experts say." The true litmus test of an expert may be if they allow their name to be mentioned. But then, if a name is given, they may just be imposters claiming to be experts. It can be hard to tell the difference.
Experts often make their point by quoting other people. There is a lesson in this. An expert, who is having trouble with his statement having enough merit to stand alone, can quote someone else to strengthen his point. This makes it seem that they are not alone and others share their view. They can also say "a number of people have told me…." We usually think that "a number" means many, but one or even zero are numbers, too. When an expert quotes another person, usually the person being quoted is dead. It is safe to quote dead folks because a dead person has never come back and accused someone of misquoting him.
In fact, the surest way to become an expert may be to die. The longer a person has been dead, the more they are quoted and the more expert they become. Consider William Shakespeare, a guy who ran around in panty hose and puffy short pants, one of the most quoted men of all time.
Darrell Thompson is the Moulton store manager of Lawrence County Exchange.