Chandan Lahiri

Don’t trust experts … they have crossed their use-by date

posted in: Musings | 0

Whenever we have a question we cannot seem to find an answer for, we tend to look for an 'expert'.

But let us look at this expert a little closely. The expert relies on evidence that he has read, studied, understood, analysed, of things that happened in the past. The entire basis of the expert opinion has its foundation on what already has been. Often, when we ask the expert about what to do in the future, the answer will again be rooted in the past data that he is aware of. Again, often, when asked about something revolutionary in concept where there is no previous benchmark, experts will promptly come up with the "Not Invented Here" answer - not possible since it hasn't been done in the past.

And that is just criminal. Criminal? Not quite. If we go back into history and look at the many things that have changed the world, they have been changed not by so-called experts, but by people who have been tinkering away in the garage or basement. PhD scholars know how things have been done in the past, it is the drop-out who changes the world. Not always, but a lot of the times.

Let us look at survival. More specifically, adapting and multitasking.

Ask an expert whether you can boil water in a plastic bottle and the inevitable answer will be an emphatic "No". And there will be enough reasons to justify the answer. Plastic is bad for health, being the foremost. But ask the survivor how he hydrated himself and chances are that he will nonchalantly say that he used a plastic bottle found in trash to boil water in.

Let's us take a heart attack scenario.

You are alone in the middle of the city and you realise you are having a heart attack. You know you require CPR but there is no one around to administer it. What do you do? You need to administer CPR to yourself. What is CPR? It is a method through which you massage your heart to start pumping blood again. And if breathing is becoming a difficulty, you need to get oxygen into the bloodstream. So what do you do when you have to adminster CPR to yourself?

Well, massage the heart and get oxygen into the bloodstream.

And how do you do that? By strenuously and vigorously coughing from the pit of your stomach. Take a deep breath cough as if you want to get the intestines out through your mouth. This will constrict the diaphragm, which in turn will compress the chest cavity and end up massaging the heart. The process of taking the deep breath will get oxygen into your body.

Will this save you? Maybe not.
Will it give you a chance that you can save yourself? Absolutely.
Is it recommended? Not, according to the experts.

And this is where the problem is. The experts know how to administer CPR in an ideal world. Stuck in the middle of nowhere and having a heart attack, is not an ideal world. You have to do what you can to save yourself. So do it. If you still succumb, you will do so with the knowledge that you did whatever was in your power to do to save yourself.

Same thing in a lot of other situations. Do not always listen to experts. They know what people before them have done and therefore what is the ideal thing to do. They cannot always think out of the box. They will not offer advice that is not backed by empirical evidence.

No doctor will tell a blind man to climb Mt Everest. Yet, Erik Weihenmayer did.

When you have lost both your legs, most people will be advised ... by experts ... to confine their sedentary lives to a wheelchair. Yet, Mark Inglis is a cyclist, researcher, winemaker and motivational speaker with a degree in biochemistry and has conducted research on leukemia. As a cyclist he won a silver medal at the 2002 Sydnet Paralympic Games. Oh, by the way, he is an Everester too.

Listen to experts surely, but listen to hear if they have anything new to offer. Be polite and take away what you can, there is no point in getting into an argument with them about the future, they are just not tuned to go down that road.

Tinker away in the garage of your mind and find new ways to do things. That is the way you will change the world either in your own small way, or on a massive scale when you will find how to harness the power of the Sun, for instance, for all our energy needs.

Adapt | Innivate | Improvise | Overcome.
Experts cannot help you on this journey.

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