Sunday, December 17, 2006


I had an entry under my soon-to-be-indispensible Underground DSM-IV which noted that "when someone challenges your credentials, no credentials will be good enough."

I am expanding that to a general rule for life. If you are in an argument with a socialist and say "I used to be a socialist," the demand for your credentials means the discussion is over. If you are arguing about bridges and say "I have a degree in engineering," it will not be the right kind of engineering somehow. Even if it is, and you've been designing bridges all your life and won the "Best Bridge Design" award 3 years in a row.

Today's was "I work with the poor." Well, a lot of people work with the poor, at least part of the time. Merchants work with the poor. Lots of government officials work with the poor. The police and ambulance folk work with the poor. It's not that odd, really. But when someone wants to make a point about the poor - as I did on two blogs today - facts can't be allowed to get in the way.

I don't claim expertise in most of the subtopics about poverty. But sometimes people make assertions that anyone who works in the biz knows to be untrue. Experts can go wrong in many ways - usually by getting some particular set of ideas in their head and fitting everything into that box. Credentials aren't everything. But taken with proper humility, they should mean a little.


Woody said...

What's your background to come up with this assertion?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Just 'cuz I'm smarter'n you, Woody. Deal with it.

Woody said...

If you are in an argument with a socialist....

Why would anyone do that? Certainly not anyone who is smart.

When liberals ask questions like define "win" or provide a source for your opinion (which I have had), then they really have made up their minds to reject whatever you say. If I told them the sky was blue, they would disagree.

Mark said...

So to recap you have no credentials but resent those who do telling you, according to their expertise, you may be mistaken. I can see why you'd have a problem with myth-busting expertise. Most wingnuts do, but that changes little about nonexpert assumptions. Testably false in most cases. In other words layman's opinion. There is always room for the odd exception from anyone.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Uh, mark? The point is that I do have credentials. The intent of the post was to note that when someone challenges them, I usually find that they don't like them, however good they are.

I originally applied it to psychiatric patients and families, but have expanded it as applying more generally.

Read louder.