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The limits of expertise

dpooledpoole Posts: 5,940 ✭✭✭✭✭

As many of you may know, I am a retired psychologist.

As part of the practice, I'd often testify in trials concerning child abuse/neglect, custody, occasionally criminal competence, etc. A constant fascination and concern for me was the expectation that Psychology was a "science" that could tell you what was likely to occur in a particular case, what an individual person was likely to do in the future. Of course, we knew based on 10,000 years or so of cumulative human experience that there were such things as personality traits, developmental "stages" that people (and all life) go through. But there was no way we could account for all the massive number of variables that impinge on particular individuals, internally and externally, that allow for another person to predict with confidence what that individual person will do. (Just incidentally, I'd lay out my opinion and rationale based on past behavior and the person's manifest personality traits, but it was a matter of odds, not of "scientific" certainty).

The point?

I see the same thing going on here. We have people projecting into the future based on presumptions about people's motives and (more importantly) the constancy of those motives. We have projections based on the exercise of power by elites who may or may not retain that power over time. We have countervailing expressions of confidence that humans are sufficiently resilient so as to head off and mollify looming Armageddon. We have experts line up on all sides, all equally inept as I was to foretell the specific future, despite all the expertise and science at hand.

Cassandras? Chicken Littles? Pollyannas? All part of the human assemblage for the same reason certain foretelling is fraught: there are simply too many variables in the human condition--either conditionally or collectively-- to know what will be.

For me, I am diversified, but otherwise live in the moment, and enjoy what's before me. I know many of you are doing the same thing.


  • blitzdudeblitzdude Posts: 5,293 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Live life brother. Life is short. Doom and gloom chicken little is a miserable existence. That said lets have enough respect to leave this earth as good or better than we found it. Very hard for many to comprehend, don't need to be a shrink to understand common sense. RGDS!

    The whole worlds off its rocker, buy Gold™.

  • derrybderryb Posts: 36,022 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 28, 2021 8:48AM

    Is not your diversification based upon your awareness of an uncertain future? And is not this uncertainty a result of contemplating many different possibilities/outcomes?

    One's opinion is molded by an understanding and evaluation of many different opinions.

    The decline from democracy to tyranny is both a natural and inevitable one.

  • blitzdudeblitzdude Posts: 5,293 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Or should I say morals. Something I am absolutely sure we as humans certainly had at one point in our evolution.

    The whole worlds off its rocker, buy Gold™.

  • MilesWaitsMilesWaits Posts: 5,297 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Love your passionate manifesto, DPoole!
    Thanks for sharing your experiences, observations and summation.
    Tears in the rain monologue: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe” from BR.

    Now riding the swell in PM's and surf.
  • WingsruleWingsrule Posts: 2,977 ✭✭✭✭

    Well written!

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @dpoole... Well stated. I have a great appreciation for what you have expressed. Though I am not of your profession, I am 'old' and have led what some have termed an 'extraordinary life'. Through extensive learning experiences (a phrase for delicate company), and association with many far more experienced than myself, I find that your words accurately portray much of what I see here and in life today. Cheers, RickO

  • bidaskbidask Posts: 13,818 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The Book of Ecclesiastes written by Solomon sums it up for me !

    I manage money. I earn money. I save money .
    I give away money. I collect money.
    I don’t love money . I do love the Lord God.

  • ctf_error_coinsctf_error_coins Posts: 15,407 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I seek out experts in fields that I lack expertise in.

    I know what I am good at and know where I need help.

    I love talking to people that are way smarter than me in specific areas of life that I seek knowledge in.

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