I was listening to a podcast about the links between scientists and experts. Stay with me now as this rabbit hole gets more exciting and will end in a request for a soup recipe.
Just so we are on the same page – or knowingly on different pages, I think of a scientist as the creator and holder of information on a small portion of our life – a specialist in lay terms. Experts, another form of specialist, have an added important function. They share the scientific information they have learned from others and distribute it to laypeople – in this case, non-scientific and non-experts.
In some cases, scientists are also experts when they take on the role of sharing their knowledge with laypeople. Experts are rarely scientists.
Some may quibble with all this, so let’s agree to think differently, and now down we go.
It’s so dark in this hole. Oh, wait, I see the light up ahead!
I’ll start with an example. I consult with my doctor over the years about a medical questions. Then I ask my good friend of many years the same question. What do I do if they disagree?
Whose advice do I follow?
After removing all the underbrush, it is about whom I trust to have the best information and the moral credibility to tell me the most helpful information in my best interest. I don’t have many details on the moral training of my doctor. My limited knowledge is that medical schools give very little unless specifically an ethics stream. I don’t think my good friend has taken any morality training except living life and reflecting frequently.
Still a tie.
I know how my doctor has treated me for many decades, and it has always been with respect. Not just politeness. But it is respecting what I wanted for medical care. She worked with me to find alternative actions to address my reluctance to take pills. (Note: I take prescription medications, and I’m thankful for the scientists who developed them, improving my quality of life.)
I was confident in her approach of meeting my medical needs in a way that worked for me vs. meeting her medical, business, time constraints during my appointment.
If this were a real example, I’d go with my doctor’s recommendation. Being a good friend, my friend would accept my decision while reserving an ‘I told you so’ for the future.
Where the heck does the soup recipe come in, you ask yourself. I’m glad you asked.
I was recently on a Zoom call with my cousin, and we often discuss our upcoming meal preparation. She is a soup-from-scratch cook and told me about making her beef and barley soup. It sounded easy. I have lentils I bought in a moment of misguided scratch-cooking phase that I slide in and out of. I was in luck as she had a lentil soup recipe. ‘Can you send me that soup recipe? I asked.
Even as I asked, I thought how odd. I usually give up my control of determining the best soup recipes online to the expertise of artificial intelligence. Here I was, returning to a partial analogue era and asking a human I trusted not to steer me wrong. Upon receiving the recipe later in the day, I copied/pasted it into my electronic recipe keeper!
Please give this a bit of a think. Reflect on how you decide who is supplying you with the information you think is in your best interest? You won’t have to look beyond the pandemic – but give it a try.
I’m curious about your thoughts. Please leave your comment below.
My thanks to CBC Ideas for the inspiration for this Blog.
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