“Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.” – Robert Heinlein.
Screw it – if I can’t teach the pig to sing, I’ll preach to the choir about these non-singing pigs we seem to have populating our country lately.
There’s a sickening anti-intellectualism in our country. Isaac Asimov said, “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”
I’m not an expert on foreign policy, on trade, on special operations, on cybersecurity, on warfare, on much of anything, actually. I’m a pretty smart person, but I’m also acutely aware of my shortcomings. I’m pretty well-educated (8 years of post-secondary education), but that doesn’t qualify me to put a roof on your house or perform your next surgery.
I rely on experts to inform me, and I rely on my own education and intellect to discern between the sources of my information.
I hope that the doctor who performs surgery on me is smarter and more educated than I am in matters of medicine. I rely on my intellect to distinguish between varying degrees of competency, but in the end, I trust a doctor to do doctor stuff.
I hope that the general who prosecutes our next war is smarter and more educated than I am in matters of national defense.
I hope that the truck driver who delivers freight across the interstate system is a smarter and more educated driver than I am.
In the end, I do all of this consciously because I realize that my google search, my meme, my opinion based in my anecdotal day-to-day, cannot possibly be as deeply informed as someone else’s educated, studied, experienced point of view on the subject matter upon which he/she focuses.
Here’s the reality: my education and intellect make bullshit stick out to me like a sore thumb. Yep. I’ll boast about that. Things like pandering, using shitty logic, using obviously unvetted or biased sources, name-calling (the tool of the side with the weakest argument), or appealing to base fears…all of those scream “bullshit” to those of us who spent years and years challenging ourselves in academic settings.
And it announces your lack of intelligence and wisdom when you fall victim to them (read: share them on social media).
Here’s the wisest thing you could ever do. Drop your ego, evaluate yourself, and if you’re not 100% sure you’re the wisest decision-maker on the planet, look to people who are actually wise. No need to go to medical school when you can just hire a doctor and take her advice…and no need to be a public policy and economic expert when you can just freely read what real public policy and economic experts have to say.
In other words, your ignorance is not equal to their knowledge. Those who tell you otherwise are playing you for a fool and using you for their own gain. They hope that you never catch on. They hope that telling you that you don’t need no stinkin’ “experts” ‘cuz you’re a got-danged AMERICAN, will keep you from digging deeper and asking real questions.
Don’t let them play you like that.