Today’s top stories: Afghanistan, COVID, California recount…
If you have been working to stay informed, it’s easy to seduce yourself into thinking that you’re an expert. As much as we like to think we know what is going on, most of us haven’t taken a biology class since university and don’t actually understand the first thing about how vaccines work.
Impossible to be an expert in every field. Instead we rely on experts to tell us what is actually happening. Creating intellectual gaps when assuming the expert has done the research.
What’s difficult is deciding which experts to follow. As Doug Muder has pointed out, just in the last two decades, you can find the government lying about Saddam hiding weapons of mass destruction, bankers committing fraud and triggering a mass recession, priests abusing children and systematically working to cover it up–it’s much more difficult today to find someone to trust because of how the culture and its leaders have failed so many. Add in the dark patterns of the internet and you’ve created a massive problem of trust.
Biologically speaking, we tend to believe what we hear. Because if someone on the savannah is telling us that there is a sabertooth tiger over by the creek, we tend to stay alive by trusting that person and avoiding the threat all together.
Status roles play a huge role in what we do. If I am to preach to my family and friends about a certain position and it turns out to be wrong, what does that say about me? Our culture has not built a space to change our minds. We tend to double down instead of owning the fact that a position can change as data comes in.
So, what does it mean to do our own research then? It’s understanding which areas we are actually experts in (very few), deciding which topics we like to be more informed on, and where we are going to trust someone who has done their homework. We all have blind spots. We can’t eliminate them but we can mitigate with the help of expert opinion.
It makes zero sense to avoid vaccination when billions have been administered worldwide and when 98% of doctors have taken it. If you are going to go against conventional wisdom here, you have to have a good reason. Not because you read something on Twitter that somehow all the experts missed. It seems silly when we put it that way.
In this example, what we are ultimately saying is, “I don’t trust the experts and the truth is still out there.” If you are not going to listen to scientists or epidemiologists, then who are going to listen to make your healthcare decisions? Because it was only a couple weeks ago, Salt Lake County voted against masks at schools. They “knew” better than the former state epidemiologist who actually studies how viruses spread. In the right circumstances, we trade our values to fit a worldview–a narrative of how we see the world.
That narrative often betrays us because we are unwilling to see the world as it really is.