Monday, May 13, 2013

Vol 2, Col 9: “Exper-tease”

I swear, everyone thinks they’re a bloody expert. Well, let me let you in on something folks – just ‘cause you read a single Wikipedia entry, watch a documentary, or peruse a National Geographic article on a given subject does NOT entitle you to a valid opinion. True, when it comes to abstract ideals like love, much of one’s perspective is formulated based on his/her feelings. Therefore, I nor the next person can justifiably tell you that your feelings are wrong as they are governed by the laws of subjectivity. Further, there is NO logic in emotion (ie: oftentimes the way you feel is not rational given the circumstances; something which I’m sure we can all attest is a “truth”). With that said, the problem I have is NOT with peoples’ feelings (who am I to judge that?). No, the issue I seem to keep encountering pertains to the breeding of ignorance and misinformation. Worse, the persons who are doing said “breeding” somehow have convinced themselves that they are worthy spokespeople on subjects in which they have little to no formal training.

Par exemple: just the other day I was watching a news broadcast about the obesity epidemic in the US. No word of a lie, the so-called “expert” they brought in claimed that a good majority of this problem could be attributed to the fact that the foods we are consuming are being cooked in plastic containers.

According to this “expert”, the plastics in which foods are packaged contain chemical compounds he has coined “obesogens” which interfere with the body’s natural homeostasis, therefore detrimentally affecting our metabolic rates (ie: the amount of calories we burn, the amount of food we need to consume to be satiated, and the amount of fat that is stored versus burned off per meal). Now, I would never discount that wrapping our foods (or anything else for that matter) in plastics is highly problematic as yes they do contain many toxins that should NOT be ingested in any capacity. HOWEVER,
1) this “expert”’s argument allows obese individuals to entirely skirt the blame for their situation by failing to acknowledge that it may be the ACTUAL QUALITY OF FOOD they are consuming that is at least partly to blame (not the mention their lack of exercising).
2) this so-called “expert” (from my reading of his bio) has NO actual qualifications in the domain of health and nutrition. In fact, he is a Professor of Surgery and holds a Masters in Business.

While medical doctors do receive some health and lifestyle training, I have it on good authority that this is a very LIMITED aspect of their seven year foray at school (as the old adage goes, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”), not to mention there is a growing proportion of doctors/clinics that have direct ties to pharmaceutical companies (for research funding purposes) making their “health advice”, I should think, at least a little bit partisan.      

If you think that I’m just picking on the media and what they choose to disseminate as “fact” however, you’re wrong. According to a seminar I attended last year put on by accredited mental health care professionals, there is a growing proportion of “average joes” engaging in self-diagnosis practices and diagnoses of their close friends and family. Christ, if we went by what everyone “claims”, we’d all be labeled as suffering from manic depression and/or obsessive compulsive disorder. But I should point out that this phenomenon is NOT exclusive to health concerns – it’s everywhere and in regards to everything, and strangely even manages to make unquestioned leaps of faith (ie: like kids who claim to be proficient and skilled musicians simply because they can rock GuitarHero or businessmen questioning their mechanics because so and so at their work, who works in a completely unrelated field I might add, said that they didn’t need to have their car’s oil changed every 5000 clicks to ensure optimal functioning….right)

Although in some ways, as a lifelong D.I.Y.-er, I find it empowering that “knowledge” is no longer relegated to the rich, super-educated or the clergy, and that we now have collaborative forms of collective experiences being shared globally, this newfound accessibility of knowledge requires the development of new abilities: namely superior b.s.-detecting skills (checking people’s credentials before taking what they say as “fact” might be a good starting place), and the learning of the differences between information, entertainment, and infotainment, especially given that “citizen journalism” has gotten such a grasp over the mainstream, and the mainstream has become corporate controlled.

Now, if you’re thinking, “Hey, wait a minute Ms. RCP, with all of this knowledge talk, you yourself are being a hypocrite,” I’d like to point out that
1: I’ve been hired by this fine newspaper of yours to share my OPINIONS based purely on my own observations and experiences
2: you are welcome to disagree with me or IGNORE me anytime, and
3 MOST IMPORTANTLY, I have NEVER once stated that what I’m saying is “fact” (unless it’s an observation, of course) or that I’m an expert (yes, I have knowledge in an assortment of domains, but I humbly admit there is always far more I can learn). Therefore, in conclusion, what you are reading is MY TRUTH and a truth to which I feel others may be able to relate to; hence why these articles are published in the “editorial” section.

*Little known fact about Wikipedia*: a few years back, there was a young man verging on adolescence who felt entitled to have an opinion. Claiming falsely that he was a post-graduate of several of the most prestigious academic institutes worldwide, he successfully had his incorrect “edits” on a multitude of important subjects accepted by “the free encyclopedia” and averted detection for quite some time. One has to wonder, how many people first off read his information? Worse, how many people accepted his information as “truth”, and then committed actions based on it?  Scary ain’t it?!