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A Suspicion of Experts

October 2, 2012
No Diet 4 Me

Years ago, when I was of a young and tender nature, I graduated from college with a degree in accounting. After several interviews, and a couple of interim positions, I became a real live accountant. Had the name plate on my desk, business cards, a secretary...the whole nine yards, as they say.

I had made it. I was a fact, I was an expert.

Expert on what, you ask.

Well, to tell the truth, of being able to scan through a federal regulation and in just a few minutes extract the sentence, phrase, or paragraph which applied to the situation I was dealing with. Over time, I became quite knowledgeable on what the regulations said, even if I had no idea WHY they said it. In many instances, the best I could come up with was the guess that somebody somewhere liked to write complicated things and other people thought they sounded complicated enough to become laws and regulations.

Of course, they were mostly incomprehensible to others, even those who were "experts" in some specialty of their own. Hence the need for people like me...experts in reading, relaying, and defining such esoteric info for others who chose to do things like repair cars, teach children, save the world...whatever!

Over the years, I found it necessary to seek out other experts only to learn that either:

A) They had learned to do the research or had done the research so often they already knew the answer, or...

B) They had no clue and had to fake it.

However, both types were believed and their advice often followed because they were....da...da...da...experts!

Story: When I was in college, I signed up for a co-op program where I attended school for a quarter and worked in an accounting office at Eglin AFB for a quarter. Fortunately, my coworkers realized that I was NOT an expert and helped me not to make too bad a fool of myself.

Some other students on the same program got sent to work with the IRS. They came back with stories of being put on the phone lines to take calls and answer tax payers' questions...even though they had no clue what they were doing.

Many times over the years, I have had to turn to "experts" to get information or guidance and have so many times been disappointed that I have begun to become a "wee tad" disillusioned by the exercise.  I have also researched many subjects for both professional and personal reasons and have often found two, or more, experts offering differing points of view or even "facts".

You would think that important things would only be placed in the hands of knowledgeable people, but I find that this is often not the case. Just look at Congress!

A few years ago I was refused a promotion which I had been promised because someone who put together the Federal Regulations, a bible of such things, changed one word in one sentence for 90 days. Go figure!

So, what triggered this diatribe against wisdom and knowledge?

Well, I blog on health and fitness, and, while researching some information on nutrition, I came across a study which found (surprise) that many people who decided to study nutrition and make it a career do so because of some real or imagined nutritional problem they believe they have. They are seeking to learn what they feel they need to know, not what is going to be best for those they will eventually be advising.

By what my wife and I call a "rabbit trail", this led me to remember the days when I was the business manager for a county mental health facility. At first, I began to notice that the mental health "experts" with whom I worked, all seemed a bit strange. Then, they began to come to me, the accountant, to confide their problems, worries, and doubts...and to unload their anger sometimes.

I once asked the director of one of our programs why she, a PhD Psychologist with years of experience, both in counselling and in administration, why she discussed her personal doubts and problems with me, instead of with other professionals in her field. She looked at me and replied, "You're the only sane one here!"

Over time, I came in contact with several people in the field of mental health, counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, several of whom advised me on the psychological failures, weaknesses, and just plain idiocy of their compadres...who sometimes were telling me the same about them. Several told me point blank that people in their field often chose that field because they were trying to get a handle on some real or imagined (where have I heard THAT before?) problem that they had.

I've not had a lot of luck with "experts" over the years. I have had an "expert" lead me onto a firing range...between the firers and the targets. I have had an "expert" show me some self defense moves...and then tell me that they were really pretty useless.

I am sure that I have come in contact with genuine experts who really knew what they were doing. I am sure I have benefitted from some of these meetings. However, as often happens in life, it's the bad experiences which stick with us, and, the good things seldom stand out as starkly as the bad.

For the moment, I will have to go on having a bit of trouble trusting the "experts".


Donovan Baldwin is retired from the U.S. Army after 21 years of service. He is a University of West Florida alumnus (BA Accounting 1973), and a freelance writer who presently lives in the Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas area with his wife and 18-year-old dog. He is a self-styled "expert" on exercise, fitness, and health. He is also an expert on dieting and weight loss. Read his report, 10 Reasons Why Diets Don't Work at .

1,648 - 5 - 0 - US

Donovan Baldwin is a freelance writer currently living in the Dallas - Fort Worth area. He is a University Of West Florida alumnus (1973) with a BA in accounting. He is a past member of Mensa and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and has held several managerial positions while in the military and in civilian life. After retiring from the U. S. Army in 1995, he became interested in Internet marketing and developed various online businesses. He has been writing poetry, articles, and essays for over 40 years, and now frequently publishes articles on his own websites and for use by other webmasters. He has a website on health, fitness, diet, and weight loss at .

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