“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”
Do you trust the experts?
In Australia a 600-km marathon is held every year between the cities of Sydney and Melbourne.
Back in the 1980s, a 61-year-old man named Cliff Young showed up to run in the race. All the world-class runners thought he was some homeless man who showed up in the wrong place.
Because Cliff arrived wearing overalls and galoshes. And he was obviously an old man. When he told them he was there for the marathon, the professional runners asked if he had ever run in a marathon before.
“No,” replied Cliff.
“How have you been training?” they asked.
“I have cattle on my farm. I have no horses, so I run around to move them along.”
The runners laughed.
You see, every professional marathoner knew with certainty that it took about seven days to run this race, and that in order to compete, you would need to run 18 hours and sleep six hours. That’s what the experts all said.
Cliff Young was clearly not up to their standards.
When the marathon started, the pros left Cliff behind in his galoshes. (Later he would run with more appropriate shoes.) He had a leisurely shuffling style of running that targeted him as an amateur.
Cliff had no training. He did not know what the world-class runners knew.
You probably guessed that Cliff won the race, but that is not what is astonishing.
Cliff Young cut nearly two days off
the record time.
Because of his lack of training,
he didn’t “know” that you had to sleep six hours.
Cliff got up three hours early and just kept on shuffling along in his galoshes while the pro runners slept. Cliff said he visualized rounding up sheep in a storm. He finished the race in just five days.
He beat everybody. He was a sensation in Australia.
Now world-class runners “know” it’s possible to run with much less sleep. They know that they can conserve energy by adopting an easy shuffling jog. Now they have adapted to a new way of approaching long marathons.
We are like the pro runners. We act, not always according to the “real truth” but according to some conventional truth given to us by well-meaning or not-so-well-meaning “experts.”
The experts have blind spots.
And so do you.
The Nocebo Effect
You’ve heard of the Placebo Effect, right? That effect where doctors give a person a drug to help with an ailment, but what the doctors actually give is an inactive sugar pill?
And then the patient feels better as if the pill were the real thing.
Somehow the mind and body reacts
to the suggestion of an authority.
People rarely hear about it, but there is also something called the Nocebo Effect, coined in the early 1960s. Doctors can suggest something negative and the mind and body responds.
In the 1970s, doctors diagnosed a man with end-stage liver cancer. They gave him a few months to live. He died and an autopsy revealed a tiny tumor that had not spread. The doctors’ planted the image of death, and apparently the man died of that expectation.
In a 2007 study, a suicidal man took pills believing he was taking an overdose of antidepressants. He nearly died until the researchers gave him intravenous fluids and explained that he had been given placebos. The symptoms rapidly disappeared.
In a 2009 study, researchers gave placebos to patients who were told they were being given drugs with bad side effects. Participants experienced burning sensations, sleepiness, fatigue, vomiting, weakness, taste disturbances, tinnitus, and upper-respiratory-tract infections. The nocebo complaints were not random, but were specific to the type of drug they believed they were taking.
All of these examples point to one thing:
Self-fulfilling prophecies are real.
When other people give you negative pictures, or when you give them to yourself, the mind and body responds. They deliver the negative results you expect.
Beware of toxic people,
toxic doctors, and toxic thinking.
So why all this talk warning about experts?
It jumps around like water bouncing on a hot frying pan, but it comes together, so please be patient.
Home Rule points to someone who has the experience, knowledge, and mental skills to govern themselves.
Colonialism points to someone who thinks they know how others should be governed. Often, they do not even know how to govern themselves, yet they think they know what other people should be required to do.
Historically, we know that colonialism is a bad thing: A culture or nation that goes and conquers another culture or nation, destroys that culture and replaces it with its own.
The conquering culture believes its culture is better than other cultures, and so it justifies its willingness to use force. (That’s what distinguishes governments from other groups—governments use force.)
What makes colonialism such a danger is when a people assume that they know what is best for others and force it upon them.
Throughout the world today, we have people who decry colonialism, and yet, at the same time, practice it in ways often unrecognized. They believe in experts. They believe in authorities.
They lack Home Rule,
while still practice Colonialism.
Let me explain.
Home Rule is the simple ability to tell the difference between Reason and Rubbish. To tell when a statement is worthless, or a term without meaning, or a proposition absurd.
You don’t have to run to someone else for confirmation. Your ability to reason is clear and strong enough that you can recognize and explain why something is reasonable or idiotic.
It is what distinguishes children from adults, and thoughtless people (emotionally driven) from thoughtful people.
You may be already thinking, Yeah, but how many people have that ability?
Exactly. And how many of those people are out protesting and Colonizing for more government regulations to force “society” to be some ideal, when they have no Home Rule?
Your first duty, before assuming you know what kind of colonizing to engage in, is to develop home rule, the ability to think and reason. To be able to tell what is true and not true.
That is quite a challenge.
In college, I used to read two newspapers: The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle.
Once I read a long political article in the Times. Then while reading the Chronicle, I noticed an article that was the same as the Times article, but with a different headline. The only difference was that many paragraphs in the original had been removed.
And that changed everything. The entire meaning was something else. Just by deleting paragraphs without changing anything else.
In other words, the Chronicle used the same source as the Times, but used editorial discretion to trim it down and change it into a different message.
They didn’t lie, as such, because what they printed was exactly the same. But by deleting paragraphs of context, they were able to spin the meaning into a different direction.
News sources do this all the time.
You can tell this if you actually watched the Jordan Peterson video all the way through in Chapter 5. If that was your first experience with Peterson, you may have heard things about him which were not true.
Let me give you another example, one from after the 2016 presidential election.
You may have heard a story or seen a video about President Donald Trump making fun of a disabled reporter in a wheelchair. The President can be seen in the video awkwardly waving his arms and putting on a goofy face that, on the surface, could be him making fun of a disabled person.
That’s how it was reported.
But those reports left out several examples where the President made the exact same movements and facial expressions with other non-disabled reporters he was making fun of.
In other words, what he did had nothing to do with the reporter’s disability. But the news tried to give people that picture.
That dishonest news story launched the entire #WalkAway campaign.
See the video here: www.walkawaycampaign.com
Over the years, I learned how to identify honest reporters and opinion writers.
- I’d read the actual controversial Supreme Court Opinion and then read or watched what various writers or media people say about it. Who has read what it really says, and who reports it that way? And who changes what was written?
- I’d watch an actual speech in its entirety, then read or watch what various writers or media people say about it. Who has heard what the speaker really said and reports it that way? And who take parts of the speech out of context?
Home Rule means the ability to think for yourself, to examine sources yourself, to be suspicious of most sources, most authorities, most experts.
Just like my favorite professor in college who said, “Don’t read secondary sources. You can understand Jane Austen, Plato, Aristotle, and Samuel Johnson yourself.”
That’s how you build mental muscles.
Beware of people who want you to agree with the herd, and are suspicious when you examine sources yourself and ask them to do the same.
One last thing:
Resist the youthful impulse
to tear everything down.
Whew! Time for laughter.
A fellow’s business had gone bust and he was in serious financial trouble. He was so desperate that he decided to ask God for help. He began to pray.
“God, please help me. I’ve lost my business and if I don’t get some money, I’m going to lose my house as well. Please let me win the lotto.”
Lotto night came and somebody else won. Again the fellow prayed.
“God, please let me win the lotto! I’ve lost my business, my house and I’m going to lose my car as well.”
Lotto night came and he still had no luck. Once again he prayed.
“My God, why have you forsaken me? I’ve lost my business, my house and my car. My children are starving. I don’t often ask you for help and I have always been a good servant to you. Please just let me win the lotto this one time so I can get my life back in order.”
Suddenly there was a blinding flash of light as the heavens opened and the fellow was confronted by the booming voice of God.
“Hey, buddy, at least meet me halfway on this. Buy a lotto ticket.”
Heh heh. A twist on the classic flood joke and God sending rescuers.
A reporter asked a Silicon Valley CEO, “What is the secret of your success?”
She replied, “Two words.”
“And what are those words?”
“And how do you make right decisions?”
“And, what is that?”
“And how do you get Experience?”
“And those are?”
You can build your own mental muscles. You can read challenging texts, explore challenging ideas, listen reasonably to more than one side of a debate.
You can become your own expert by doing the work and examining original sources.
If you are looking for freedom, you need a developed mind that can tell Reason from Rubbish.