Let’s talk about experts. With just a little thought, you can see how easily experts can get stuff really wrong and for varying reasons, run with it.
One way experts get stuff wrong is to jump to conclusions based on faulty reasoning. Another way is to make a conclusion without sufficient evidence to support it (remind me to look up the Black Swan thingy we all learned about in Philosophy 101).
So, faulty reasoning. A very common way that experts lead us astray is to misconstrue cause and effect. For example, let’s say an alien (the expert) comes down to earth and lands on top of the John Hancock building in Chicago where he can observe all types of people walking along the Magnificent Mile. He watches for a few weeks and for sure sees lots of strange beings of all shapes and sizes. Finally after about a month or so he starts to see a pattern emerge. Whenever people carry umbrellas, there is rain. Trying to make sense of it all (he’s gathering data about earth to bring back to his planet) he takes copious notes and even works out some algorithms to support his findings. He pours over all his data and sure enough it all adds up: if most people aren’t carrying umbrellas it doesn’t rain, but when they do – it does. Umbrellas cause rain!! Eureka!
Isn’t that the best example! I wish I could site where I originally heard it – but suffice it to say, it has stuck with me and has allowed me to start reexamining a number of things I do every day. It has given me the license to eat like a cave-girl and run barefoot. More on that tomorrow.