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Call Me Old-Fashioned But...Exper-tease for dummies?

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Opinion | November 22nd, 2010

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
I swear, everyone thinks they're a bloody expert. Well, let me let you in on something folks — just 'cause you read a Wikipedia entry, watch a documentary or peruse a National Geographic article on a given subject does NOT entitle you to call yourself an expert.

True, when it comes to abstract ideals like love, much of one's perspective is formulated based on his/her feelings. Therefore, no one can justifiably tell you that your feelings are wrong as they are governed by the laws of subjectivity. Further, there is NO logic in emotion. With that said, the problem I have is not with people's feelings. No, the issue I seem to keep encountering pertains to the breeding of ignorance and misinformation. Worse, the persons who are doing said "breeding" somehow have convinced themselves that they are worthy spokespeople on subjects in whic
h they have little to no formal training.

Par exemple: just the other day I was watching a news broadcast about the obesity epidemic in the U.S. No word of a lie, the socalled expert they brought in claimed that a good majority of this problem could be attributed to the fact that the foods we are consuming are being cooked in plastic containers.

According to this person the plastics in which foods are packaged contain chemical compounds he has coined "obesogens" which interfere with the body's natural homeostasis, therefore detrimentally affecting our metabolic rates, the amount of calories we burn, the amount of food we need to consume to be satiated and the amount of fat that is stored versus burned off per meal. Now, I would never discount that wrapping our foods in plastics is highly problematic as they do contain many toxins that should not be ingested in any capacity; however, this expert's argument allows obese individuals to in many cases entirely skirt the blame for their situation. It fails to acknowledge that it may be the actual quality of food people consume that is at least partly to blame, as is a lack of exercise. Also, this so-called expert, from my reading of his bio, has no actual qualifications in the domain of health and nutrition. In fact, he is a professor of surgery and holds a master's degree in business.

While medical doctors do receive some health and lifestyle training, I have it on good authority that this is a very limited aspect of their seven-year period at school, not to mention there is a growing proportion of doctors and clinics with direct ties to pharmaceutical companies making their "health advice," I should think, at least a little bit partisan.

You may think I'm just picking on the media and what they choose to disseminate as fact; however, you're wrong. According to a seminar I attended last year put on by accredited mental health care professionals, there is a growing proportion of "average Joes" engaging in self-diagnosis practices and diagnoses of their close friends and family. Christ, if we went by what everyone claims, we'd all be labeled as suffering from manic depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I should point out that this phenomenon is not exclusive to health concerns — it's everywhere and in regards to everything, and strangely even manages to make unquestioned leaps of faith, from kids who claim to be proficient and skilled musicians simply because they can rock Guitar Hero or businessmen questioning their mechanics because so-and-so at their work — who works in a completely unrelated field — said that they didn't need to have their car's oil changed every 5,000 clicks to ensure optimal functioning ... right.

Although in some ways, as a lifelong doit- yourselfer, I find it empowering that knowledge is no longer relegated to the rich, super-educated or the clergy. I like that we now have collaborative forms of collective experiences being shared globally. This newfound accessibility of knowledge requires the development of new abilities. Firstly, developing superior bullshit detecting skills to check people's credentials before taking what they say as fact might be a good starting place. Secondly, it's important to learn the differences between information, entertainment and infotainment — especially given that "citizen journalism" now has such a grasp over the mainstream, and the mainstream has become corporatecontrolled.

Now, if you're thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, Ms. RCP. With all of this knowledge talk, you yourself are being a hypocrite," I'd like to point out that: one, I've been hired by this fine newspaper of yours to share my opinions based purely on my own observations and experiences; two, you are welcome to disagree with me or ignore me at any time; and three, most importantly, I have never once stated that what I'm saying is "fact" (unless it's an observation, of course) or that I'm an expert (yes, I have knowledge in an assortment of domains, but I humbly admit there is always far more I can learn). Therefore, in conclusion, what you are reading is my truth and a truth to which I feel others may be able to relate to; hence why these articles are published in the "opinion" section.

Little-known fact about Wikipedia: A few years back, there was a young man verging on adolescence who felt qualified to share his "expertise" in a public domain. Claiming falsely that he was a post-graduate of several of the most prestigious academic institutes worldwide, he successfully had his incorrect "edits" on a multitude of important subjects accepted by "the free encyclopedia" and avoided detection for quite some time. One has to wonder, how many people read this information? Worse, how many people accepted his information as "truth" and then committed actions based on it? Scary, isn't it?!
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