The Honor Blog
Today is: Dec 8, 2023
Post From: Sep 22, 2021
Something which I perceive to be true is that Americans seem more willing than ever to allow their decisions to be made by "experts". Or, said another way, they increasingly invoke expert opinions as the final word in an argument - they are increasingly reluctant to question people they perceive as authoritative.
To a certain extent, this is natural. There are a great many things to know in the world, and all of us are busy with other concerns. It is good sense to allow some specialization to happen, and it is reasonable for people to be humble and defer to those who appear to be knowledgeable.
As is the case with anything, however, it is possible to carry this deference too far. As an example, I bring you the drug thalidomide.
Very few people recognize that name, these days. In recent years it has found some use in treating cancer, but the reason I know the name is that it was used in the 1950s and 1960s as a measure to help pregnant women manage their morning sickness. In fact, the experts considered it safe enough to be sold over the counter - it did not even require a prescription.
The experts were wrong.
During the early 1960s, an increasing rate of birth defects made clear that thalidomide had a powerful effect on the development of fetuses. I have known several people with underdeveloped limbs - missing or shortened - people whose physical configuration was badly altered by the use of thalidomide.
Now, of course, people might argue that the use of thalidomide was banned a long time ago, that that discovery led to a tightening of drug regulations. Essentially, what those people are saying is that it is acceptable to trust the experts now, because that mistake has been corrected.
I hope you do not need me to tell you how ridiculous that argument is - essentially, it asserts that one mistake is the only one the experts have ever made. Now, apparently, we are to believe the experts are perfect.
In the movie Serenity, Mal declares exactly the point I am trying to make in the most moving speech of the move. He says, "'Cause as sure as I know anything I know this: They will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground, swept clean. A year from now, ten, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better."
The experts believe they can make you better, if you will just live your lives the way they tell you to live them. Don't question, just do what the experts tell you. Take the drugs the experts tell you to take.
That position is wrong - and it is immoral.