Saturday, January 13, 2018

Thought for a day: Ask an expert

I am thinking about a new aphorism to guide my thoughts and actions. It pertains to seeking ideas and advice from others. 

It goes like this: Ask a novice and you are likely to get one answer that looks like one of these: “I don’t know,” I’m not sure,” or “Maybe X” [I omitted the “I know not what” part for those not familiar with John Locke’s notion of substance].

Ask an expert and you are likely to get at least two answers that look something like these: “It could be X or it could be Y,” and “Research shows different results in different situations” and “In this case Z might be best – give it your best shot.”

Ask a world-class scholar (assuming you can find a living one) and you are likely to get at least three answers which resemble something like the following: “Well, that is an interesting question which deserves some scrutiny; I am familiar with a case somewhat like this in which X was tried with somewhat mixed results; in a different situation Y seemed to work but it may not be appropriate in this case; on the other hand, you might consider Z; what do you think?”

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