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Opinion >  Letters

Disbelieving experts

It is bizarre that so many writers of letters to the editor disparage formal, higher education and, in particular, experts. They put the word, experts, in quotes as if it is a euphemism for “fraudulent dimwits.”

But these letter writers certainly must consider themselves experts in their own occupations, or they would not be employed. Expertise is a result of training and experience in a particular field. If you are flying from Spokane to Houston and an engine stops, causing the pilot to divert to Denver, would you, even if it means missing the biggest business deal in your life, accept the expert’s (pilot’s) decision, or would you and others in similar situations storm the flight deck and demand to be taken directly to Houston? Would you not trust the superior expertise of a highly trained pilot to put your lives and those of a hundred fellow passengers, who disagree with you, ahead of business?

We all begin in ignorance. We overcome that, each in our way. Proponents of common sense and gut decisions put their gut above expertise, even though their common sense is only an accumulation of personal, casual, discrete observations made without controls, documentation, or replication. And they don’t even agree with their neighbor’s equally valid “common sense.” Experts began in ignorance, too. They relied on common sense before formal education. So they have walked in your shoes. Before condemning them, get a formal education in epidemiology, and walk a mile in their shoes.

Mary Foster

Coeur d’Alene


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