Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The Ever Changing Opinion of 'Experts'

Over the years we've come to hear many claims from so-called 'experts' (nutritionists, dating gurus, financial wizards etc), only to have these experts change their minds and do a total volte face a few years afterwards.  It's enough to make a guys head spin.  Which is why we should probably pay less attention to them than we do, and place less value/importance in their advice than we do at present; because at the end of the day it's Joe Public that has to live the advice that they dish out, not them.  It's Joe Public that has to hand his self-determination over to them, not the other way around.  And that, losing one's self-determination, is no good thing.  That's why in this short post, we'll cover a couple of the topics that so-called 'experts' have done a volte face on, and by doing so we'll highlight their inconsistency, and their fallibility.  Hopefully by doing so it'll become clear that 'trusting experts' should not be your default setting.
The following is a list of advice from 'experts' which contradicts itself.  For example eating lard was discouraged by many experts in the 1990s, but is promoted by many doctors in the 2010s, even though only 20 years has past.
Dating Advice:
Then (the 1990s): Be a nice guy.  Women like nice guys.
Eating Advice:
Then (1992): Make sure that 30-40% of your daily calorie intake is from carbohydrates, just like the government approved food pyramid says.
Now: Don't eat so much bread it's bad for you.  'Carbs rots the brain'.

Anger Management Advice:
Then (the 1970s): Let your anger out.  Try a primal scream!  It's bad to keep emotions bottled up.
Now (the 2010s): Keep your anger in.  Count to ten!  Go for a run!

Alcohol Drinking Advice:
Then: Don't drink any beer.  Drinking rots your brain.
Now (the 2000s): Drink beer.  Drinking is good for the heart.
Cigarette Advice:
Then (the 1940s): Smoking is good for you.  Doctors recommend it to stressed-out pregnant women.
Now (the 2010s): Smoking is bad for you. If you smoke your children will be unhappy.
Now: Believe it when I say - Lard is good for you!
(Credit to an anonymous commenter for this one)
Eating Advice:
Parenting Advice:
Then (ye olde tymes): Don't spoil your child.  Treat them harshly.  Doing so builds character.
Now (2010s):  Beating your children is wrong, don't do it.
Ai-ai ai-ai ai. That's a lot of fallibility for bunch of so-called 'experts'. And those are just the areas that I'm vaguely aware of.  There are almost certainly more topics that 'experts' have made big boo-boos in.  It makes you wonder why people continue to consider them infallible.
One observation is that these 'experts' quite often use psychological tactics to get you to follow their advice: implying that you'll die if you carry on your 'errant ways' is one method; and using 'big words' (basically an appeal to authority, because science = authority) is another methods.  For instance when an expert gives advice against eating fatty foods they say that those who don't follow their advice will be more likely die of a coronary heart attack than other people.  Pretty scary isn't it?  Implying that you're gonna keel over and have a heart attack simply because you ate one extra doughnut from the box.  That's just one of the psychological tactics that they use to try and get you to follow their advice.  You know, by either making you feel bad for doing your own thing and not doing what they say, or rewarding with praise you for following their advice.
Another tactic is using big scientific words which either sound impressive (and make you buy into them) or sound scary and make you run away from them.  Take the following television advertisement for Vitalite margarine from 1993 (in the UK); it includes the fancy scientific-technical sounding words 'poly-un-saturated fats' in their song:
And why did they use these terms?  Because science sells, especially as an authority figure.  Haircare products use it all the time.  'New with ceramide-R'.  Who knows what ceramide-r is, or what it does?  Not many of the viewers I'll wager.  It's completely irrelevant info but there you go, it does what it's supposed to and that's to infer authority in order to make the product sell.  It's like saying something in Latin it sounds more impressive, 'cause Latin is the liga franca of the academia don't ya know:
omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina   
Translation: "everything sounds more impressive when said in Latin"
To prove my point, here's an impressive sounding sentence in Latin, with it's English translation.
Ego similis comedere et burgers donuts caseus, dum vigilo mulieres colluctatio lutum. 
Translation: "I like eating cheese burgers and doughnuts, while watching women mud wrestling."
See what I mean?!  That's how the appearance of authority can make something common/mundane look impressive.
And that about wraps it up for this week folks.  It's hopefully enough to put the point across that 'experts' aren't always expert, and that you shouldn't take their advice as gospel (God's Spiel - God's Word), because it isn't.  They are fallible.  They are wrong.  And they quite often give you advice during one decade that they'll tell you is bad the following decade.  So do yourselves a favour and take their advice with a measure of salt.  After all, by following their advice like a Medieval parishioner listening to the Catholic Church you are just abdicating responsibility of yourself to them, and that certainly ain't masculine.


  1. You should see the alternating headlines about global cooling/warming since 1900.

  2. Oh yeah, the 'whole global warming/climate change' deal changes with the weather, literally! What was it they said in the 1990s? That the world was going to heat up by several degrees and sea levels were going to rise by six metres? It's all tosh. Solar cycles are the main cause of changes in the climate.

    Then there's the related field of pollution which has also gotten it's fair share of mis-predictions. Back in the 1960s (1970s?) when Silent Spring was written, all the birds were gonna die, yet I still hear them each morning when the sun comes up. It never ends does it?!