Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Experts

First off, if you haven't already taken a look at my online rummage sale (I actually call it a garage sale but then that might too easily be confused with garbage sale, which it isn't), please see if anything interests you: click here.

The other day I mentioned my goal of retiring concurrently with the mortgage on our house, which happens in 5 years. Thus I said I needed to concoct a 5-year plan on just how to accomplish this so I could go to sleep as late as I wanted and wake up as late as I wanted every day.

Well, I'm still thinking about that but all that thinking brought me around to wondering just how do people become "experts?" I'm talking about the people who are featured in the media espousing their views on whatever people will listen to, and are regarded as "experts" in their field.

Let's take talk radio. Just what makes the hosts of these shows any more knowledgeable than the average guy? Or those snooty, unbelievably boring people on public television (channel 28 in Southern California) who talk about politics? Or, investment advisors giving their opinion on when the recession is going to end, and telling you what to do with your money.

Personally, I think you can grab someone off the street who has a reasonably wide enough vocabulary and possesses adequate diction skills, dress them up as an "expert" and let them start babbling away on the airwaves or translate them into print - and the audience will be none the wiser. Half the time just by chance they'll come up with something that is right on target, and the other half they may blow it but that will make them just as good as the next "expert" out there.

If you flip a coin, in the long run you will wind up with an even amount of heads and tails (assuming the coin is balanced). But you will not flip alternate heads and tails. You will wind up with streaks of heads and streaks of tails. So it is with "experts." They suddenly get into a streak in which they guess correctly, resulting in them becoming the next media sensation with their 15 minutes of fame and everyone suddenly thinks they have credibility. Then when the other side of the coin starts to fall, the fact that this person has been burned into people's minds as an "expert" will act to prevent them from seeing the real truth, that this win streak was just the luck of the draw (or flip).

Now think about Richard Simmons. Most people consider him an expert on exercise. But take a look at him these days - he's overweight. So how can he be an expert on fitness if he is overweight? Yet, he still has credibility in the fitness arena. It's because the old, fit Richard Simmons is what is in people's minds when they think of him.

Or that quack Dr. Phil - is anything he says any more than common sense? And he doesn't seem to possess even as much as an average person does, yet because he is on television and Oprah loves him, he is perceived as America's greatest psychologist or psychiatrist or whatever. Woe to us!!

I've been in situations where my knowing a little more than the next person has made people think I am some sort of "expert" in that area. Then if that impression sinks into the minds of others, all of a sudden you gain a reputation. The impression and the image becomes more important than what you really do. All you have to do is be profound once in a while in order to reinforce that image.

Anyway, what the heck am I trying to say.. I don't know. I just got off on a tangent but loosely, I am thinking as part of this 5-year plan, somehow my putting my writing to use is a part of it. I know I need to clean up my pronoun use and switching from first to second to third person without warning, but hey this is a blog and what can you expect? I'm just typing like some maniac..




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