We Have Too Many Drips Under Pressure
In mathematics, an ‘X’ is an unknown quantity. In plumbing, a spurt is a drip under pressure. Combine the two and you have an X-spurt or as it is more commonly known; an expert. Increasingly, we are surrounded by self-professed experts; unknown drips under pressure who have been working overtime to make a mess of the world in which we live.
To be fair, some of them are just cynical greedy buggers who are in the ‘spurt’ business for the cash. It may not make the nonsense they impose on society easier to deal with but at least it’s honest. Under the right circumstances, who knows how many of the rest of us might not become a Spurt if there was enough cash being presented.
The Spurts that really get under my hat, however are those who are true believers in their own expertise. Their faces glow with earnestness as the light of Jesus shines from their eyes and a constant flow of stupidity flows out of the mouths. They are folks that tend to worm their way into positions of influence (often at great public expense) and then proceed to take themselves far more seriously than we take them.
This past week, for example, the Spurts at the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that processed red meat is linked to cancer. WHO is an appropriate acronym for this organization that is full of Xs of unknown intellectual quantity.
The Spurts in the media picked up the story and confusion reigned.
The WHO had not released a report but for some bizarre reason they released a media advisory or statement or whatever they call it based on pre-existing and pre-published reports and comments by various health organizations over the past decade – most of which had already been in the media at one time or another. It suggested (not claimed) that their might be (not is) a link between processed red meat and cancer. What they didn’t say was that processed red meat definitely causes cancer. If almost all of this was already known, the obvious question is – why bother to release it again? That question becomes even more pertinent considering the backlash to the misreporting that followed the WHO’s press communique.
A clarification was subsequently issued by the WHO after the media demonstrated once again their inability to do a little reading beyond the headline of a press release before jumping on the sky is falling bandwagon. Indeed some of the media didn’t even read the WHO press release – they just read other media reports and went from there.
This was a non-story; a classic example of experts creating something from nothing.
The WHO is the same organization that completely mishandled the Ebola outbreak. Remember how it went from critical to crisis to world pandemic and then back to ‘never mind, carry on with what you were doing’ in the space of a few weeks? It is, like far too many, an organization full of ‘Spurts’ who because of their ‘expertise’ often jump in where no jumping in is required. Usually it is excessive meddling, fear-mongering or difficult to comprehend baffle gab and almost always, it costs us money.
For their part, too many Spurts in the mainstream media seem to believe that freedom of the press has more to do with self-indulgent commentary on things they know nothing about. From politics to public policy, business to unions, education to consumerism, these media experts don’t just report the news – they lay down what should be done to correct the situation regardless of the situation or the issue and with no regard for their level of knowledge about it. Experts are simply experts, no other ability is required.
Personally, I believe that the reason many in the media became journalists has nothing to do with the ability to write well (many don’t) or even to think beyond the herd mentality as we saw in the last election. I think it is a belief that they know more than everyone else. The simple truth is that they don’t but are either too stupid or too arrogant to admit that to themselves. They’re like people on the outer edges trying to be on the inside but failing miserably.
Canada is in the middle of a transition of government. In some countries, this involves guns and armies and civil war. Sometimes it involves assassinations or just the outgoing head of state fleeing the country with as much money as he – or she – can cram into a Swiss bank account.
In Canada, it involves the outgoing Prime Minister visiting the Governor General for coffee to announce his intention to resign on such and such a date. The incoming Prime Minister is then summoned to visit the Queen’s representative to share coffee and receive an invitation to form the next government. It’s all very civilized and ever-so Canadian. Typically the outgoing Prime Minister and the incoming one meet to discuss the transition of power.
All of that took place last week as it has following every election resulting in a change of administration since confederation. Nobody, and I do mean nobody, gave any of this a second thought until one young terribly earnest media expert at the Ottawa Citizen saw skullduggery and other potential shinanigans in the works.
The Ottawa Citizen’s Kady O’Malley published a series of articles pointing to the fact that we didn’t yet know if the outgoing PM had resigned and suggested that he might even be trying to figure out away to avoid resigning. We didn’t know the date of the swearing in of a new PM or even if it would happen. She went on to suggest that we might be headed for a constitutional crisis.
Christ in Heaven – talk about a drip under pressure.
It was all a bunch of meaningless and pointless nonsense as the Governor General’s Office clarified a couple of days later. Ms O’Malley and others who ran with this story until it died an ignoble death conducted themselves like 2nd year journalism students believing themselves to be Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein on the cusp of breaking Watergate.
It must have been a slow news day although you would never have known it. There has been so much contradictory analysis about why the Conservatives lost the election or what the incoming Liberals must (not should) do or why the Liberal government will fail or succeed or do nothing different that you have to believe the producers of newsprint are considering this a banner sales season. There is so much trivial drivel that it forces you to sit back and wonder why you are continuing to pay for a subscription to some of these news publications.
It used to be that those who could – did; those who couldn’t – became teachers. Now it seems that those who can – do and those who can’t – well – they become experts who tell the rest of us what needs to be done or how the world will end on Sunday evening at 10:00 – 10:30 in Newfoundland.
Our educational system has all but been destroyed by experts. Other experts and their plans and strategies have put our Health Care System in constant crisis despite the hundreds of billions we throw into it every year.
Pick an area of private or public sector policy that is in trouble whether it is the environment, employment, poverty, illegal drugs or public transit and the more screwed up it is – the more experts you will find hard at work and doing their best to screw it up even more.
Read the commentary at the bottom of any newspaper article and you’ll find hundreds of self-professed experts on everything from military strategy to science.
I remember not long ago reading a somewhat innocuous article about Stephen Hawking, a certified genius who has thought of things most of us still don’t understand. That, of course, didn’t stop a number of Spurts from weighing in on why his theories on the space-time continuum were wrong. There’s nothing like a professor from a second-class university criticizing Stephen Hawking’s understanding of quantum physics. It’s just more confirmation that those who can – do; those who can’t teach or become experts who criticize those who do.
I believe we need fewer experts. We have far too many drips under pressure influencing things and they aren’t doing a very good job of it which isn’t all that difficult to see when you stop and take a look around. Experts have no time for common sense. Their solutions must be complex, expensive and hopefully involve forcing the broader public to make lifestyle changes or follow new rules, guidelines or laws.
To be perfectly frank, the only experts for which I have much use are electricians and plumbers and only when my new microwave blows the breaker panel or the toilet back up. That’s expertise with purpose and considering the alternative; it’s not an unreasonable expense either.
I believe if we got rid of the rest of the Spurts and their ‘expertise’, we would not only be considerably better off – we’d save enough money to balance the budget, pay off government debt and, best of all, have enough money left over to issue each and every one of us a gift certificate for a new coat or shoes or whatever you want.
I could use another camera lens so a gift certificate to Adorama or B&H Photo would come in damn handy.
© 2015 Maggie’s Bear
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