Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains:
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Order / DeGate / DeProfessionalize /
Areas of Inquiry: Kleptocracy, Institutions, Mislabeling, Language Pollution …
The ordinary meaning of expert is someone who’s mastered some discipline: of course: someone who is very good at something: accomplished, skilled …
Knatz.com echoes (and occasionally tries to amplify) Ivan Illich’s perception that human societies corrupt their own institutions till the institutions often come to represent something akin to the opposite of their supposed charter: churches make us self-congratulatory, schools cripple the life of the mind, defense endangers us, the media blocks true reports, the health industry is the second leading cause of death …
Government blurs with the warlord, the thugs, the Mafia …
(Thus, 2006 01 23, when pk says “expert” he typically doesn’t mean Galileo; he means Galileo’s fellow professors who attacked him; he doesn’t mean Einstein; he means Einstein’s physics teacher who did everything in his power to prevent Relativity from getting published …)
The central point of Knatz.com’s religious philosophy of Chrixity contrasts the complaisance of Christianity where the Jews and the Romans are blamed for railroading, torturing, and killing God’s primary messenger — an incarnation of the god himself (according to those bishops invited to Nicaea in 325 AD) — and the recognition that Yes, the rejection of the best models characterizes us to a tee: Herod’s Jewry, Caesar’s Rome, and US are fully congruent.
Thus: watch out for priests, policemen, soldiers, doctors, teachers … publishers, lawyers, business leaders … experts.
2005 07 10 Again: I don’t mean to watch out for people who know their subject, for people who know what they’re doing; watch for them; I mean watch out for those imposed on you by others as knowing what they’re doing.
Of course I also mean the also profound point of McLuhan: just below.
Thus far, pk and Knatz.com’s iteration of how pk’s own doctoral committee ganged up on him to make sure that his thesis that Shakespeare’s sonnets recapitulated the central epistemological agon of the Second Millennium (AD) could not be articulated let alone defended: experts serving ignorance, experts stalling exploration, experts draining the wind from the sails of imagination, or inquiry … has stimulated no inquiry, no investigation, no reform.
Experts find it progressively easier to hide behind their expertise and beyond evaluation.
In science the evidence has the last word,
in society the experts have the last word: and the first word too.
The first witticism about experts I ever noted down (in the 1960s) was Marshall McLuhan’s.
A specialist is one who never makes small mistakes
in his progress toward the grand fallacy.
2005 07 10 (I first quoted that as expert; now memory corrects it to specialist: but for specialist, read expert.)
I offered that quote to publishers as the front piece for my first novel (one that challenged the glib belief that communication among sentiences is automatically successful). Are you surprised that the experts didn’t publish it? I guess I’m not either. (How did McLuhan get published?)
If I had to cite an exact source these decades later, I’d start scanning The Mechanical Bride. If I didn’t find it there, I’d simply move on at random to any of his subsequent best sellers.
The other day I added to my Quotes files a beautifully crafted bit of prose by Catfarmer:
An expert is someone who has thrown down an anchor in a placid harbor of shallow certainties, rather than brave the uncertain depths of a vast and largely uncharted ocean of knowledge and wisdom. The expert ridicules the intrepid explorer who prefers to ride the waves of consciousness, adrift in search of new horizons to discover. The expert looks backward, surveying previous maps and models; the explorer, looking forward, is content to construct new models and create new maps for the next generation of experts to croon over. So it goes; and the sage appreciates both and despises neither, shuttling to and fro between certainty and uncertainty: looking forward now and backward then, gleaning seeds from the stubble of exhausted fields of knowledge to plant them again in fresh and fertile fields for the future.
Today I am moved to add a Chrixity wrinkle:
The state anoints experts, empowering them to silence the stupid tail of the social beast: and to snip off its brilliant head.
The professors and cardinals, without telescopes were able to silence and punish the one scientist with the telescope: Galileo: the one who’d dared to find evidence against the speciousness of their cosmology.
Stories Exposing “Experts”