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“Because I said so”: Authoritative opinions in a world of authorities October 23, 2008

Posted by Raul in random thoughts.
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“It must be true because everything on the Internets is true”

I’ve heard this phrase oh-so-many-times. Since I found it on the Internet, it must be true 😉 Well, honestly, I don’t buy into the phrase. Why not? Well, simply because, as some of the early critics of the Net have indicated – ANYONE can post on the Internet.

This is precisely my problem (well, my beef with the Internet). Since ANYONE can post ANYTHING online, it now seems as though EVERYONE is an expert in something. Some people are experts at appearing to be experts at something. This is an issue where not even the academic world is free of criticism. Just because your journal article got published or because you have a PhD, that doesn’t make you an overall expert. True, you may be an expert in one specific area, but some people feel as though they are experts in EVERYTHING.

And truth be told, there are awful articles published in prestigious journals and great articles published in crappy journals. Not even academia escapes this. There is something for everyone. But we (academics) like to believe that peer-review does somehow help us sieve the good from the bad.

I find that the only way I can keep my sanity in this world of authorities is to not trust every authoritative opinion I hear. One of the reasons why I am grateful about my academic training (with its flaws and everything) is because it makes me question everything. I always look at data and say “hmmmm… really?”. I like to analyze what’s beneath the surface, where the truth lies.

How do YOU deal when you need an authoritative opinion and just about everyone you ask feels as though they are an authority in the field?

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Comments»

1. Barbara Doduk - October 24, 2008

I think you have hit the nail on the head. I wish I had thought of this fact when writing about branding. It applies to product marketing really well to. Is every product out there the best one ever and you need to own it? Marketing has become like this, they know what is best for you and it is this product – so buy buy buy. I find a lot of blogs come across to me like this too. The blog author thinks that what they write is the “it” thing above all the other millions of blogs out there.

As for authoritative opinion… what is that saying about opinions?

HAHA

In a world of uncertainty what we can be certain of is opinions will vary. Everyone can’t be right, and no one wrong, can they. So I think you are like me, I accept and am open to everyone’s opinion (that I ask for) and I come to my own conclusions based on my needs or wants. Always remaining open to further reflection on the topic and revision of my opinion.


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