I’ve sadly neglected my blog space for the past few months, but I assure you that I have been writing. The third book in the Maggie Lyon Mystery series will soon be available, and a few other projects are expected to see the light of day. In addition to working on novels and plays—some fun, some more challenging—I’ve done quite a bit of reading. I’ve also been observing global events and wondering where all of this business will lead.
It seems several conversations and interactions with people these days include comments and concerns, and among some of the most frustrating, which have me rolling my eyes, I am reminded of a 2017 book I read recently called The Death of Expertise by Tom Nichols.
On page 143 he writes: “This fusing of entertainment, news, punditry, and citizen participation is a chaotic mess that does not inform people so much as it creates the illusion of being informed. Just as clicking through endless Internet pages makes people think they’re learning new things, watching countless hours of television and scrolling through hundreds of headlines is producing laypeople who believe—erroneously—that they understand the news. Worse, their daily interaction with so much media makes them resistant to learning anything more that takes too long or isn’t entertaining enough.”
How appropriate for our times, but the book’s purpose goes even further. Nichols writes extensively about facts versus opinions. In one chapter, he relates one of my favorite stories of a college freshman standing up to a professor with decades of experience, and when the novice ends his argument with, “Well, my guess is as good as yours,” the professor responds, “No, it isn’t. My guess is much better than yours.”
I’m not millennial-bashing by the way. On the contrary, I know several extremely gifted people who fall into that age range, and they are the hope of the future. I also know a few people whose opinions I once respected who seem to have given up on experts in favor of declaring that their beliefs somehow hold as much weight as someone who has spent decades searching for the facts in a scholarly manner.
Nichols writes that so-called experts occasionally get it wrong, and in the fields of science and medicine, new discoveries come along often enough to disprove old ideas, which makes it seem like the experts were wrong more often than they were. And then we mustn’t forget the biased studies and “alternative facts” presented to us through various media outlets. In the end, I occasionally find myself in situations where the conversations begin, “I feel…” or “I believe…” or “I think that…”
Someday I’m going to have the courage to say, “I don’t care what you feel, believe, or think about…” but at the moment I still enjoy having friends.
© 2019 by Patrick Brown
To learn more about my books, especially the two featuring Maggie Lyon, visit my Amazon author page at: http://www.amazon.com/Patrick-Brown/e/B005F0CYH2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1419885131&sr=8-1