Maintaining a healthy American skepticism of ‘the Experts’
Americans have always had a healthy distrust of authorities and dogmas, especially when we’re told they can’t be questioned. It’s in our DNA to push back on Old World power structures, like established churches and the divine right of kings. But it seems like our rebellious nature is weakening as a new royal priesthood — the “Experts” — rises to demand our fealty.
And their grip is no less powerful here in North Carolina than anywhere else in the country.
Expertise is of course a good thing, especially when the person has tapped deeply into one of the three eternal wells of wisdom — Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.
But what happens when all the various organizations and professions that developed to be trustworthy sources of expertise in their particular spheres of life are captured by the same ideology? Well, then you get the current situation, where Experts are trotted out on issue after issue to give us the official, correct, righteous position, but when they speak, instead of wisdom, you hear their ideology.
Librarians, child gender-transition specialists, abortion providers, teachers organizations, climatologists, and on and on. Many of them do know certain things about their areas of expertise (often much less than you would assume), but they invariably veer outside of this training and weigh in on the moral questions of the day.
For those comfortably ensconced on their own team who have given all their trust to the Experts, this accusation may seem anti-science and ignorant. But maybe doing the old flip-it-around trick might provide a different perspective.
Imagine if during a debate on guns, someone was called to testify before a legislative committee. The person said they were an expert on how guns are designed, manufactured, and repaired. Everyone would likely trust their testimony on what metals are used and what machinery is needed to build firearms. But if they shift into moral questions of how every American has a natural right to self defense, half the audience would probably tune them out. It’s simply beyond their expertise.
This is the same reason why conservatives aren’t convinced by the American Library Association and its all-out campaign to prevent the “banning” of pornographic material to children. We assume that librarians understand and could teach us a thing or two about the Dewey Decimal system, but they have no special knowledge on which books are too explicit to be on the shelves in a children’s section. In fact, it seems they are less morally developed on these questions than the children whose books they are trusted with curating.
The same goes with far-left health professionals and the institutions they’ve overrun. They may know how to sterilize a child with hormone blockers, but does that mean they are the moral experts on whether this is the right thing to do? Not at all.
Consider the below discussion from a Duke Health gender medicine conference last year. The panelists listened as Marci Bowers, the president of the world’s most-expert organization on transitioning kids (WPATH), laid out concerns on the status of their field (which kind of made it sound like they are just making it up as they go along).
Bowers said there really isn’t good data yet on the effects of these treatments because it is such a new field, said there is concern about all the detransitioners (those who no longer want to be trans) coming out of the woodwork, and said that blocking puberty at a young age makes the patient’s genitals fail to ever develop — which causes the secondary problems of not having enough skin to invert a penis into a vagina later and creates a situation where “really about zero” of these young males will go on to ever achieve an orgasm.
The woman in the bottom left, Deanna Adkins, is a doctor at Duke’s gender medicine clinic and is frequently brought out as an Expert on trans kids.
In a 2021 debate on trans kids in sports at the N.C. legislature, Adkins is quoted by the Associated Press as saying that there’s “no evidence that the average transgender girl is any bigger, stronger, or faster than other girls,” which is about as self-evidently false as saying there’s no evidence girls are more likely to give birth. I haven’t seen a scientific study, but one hardly needs to be done.
This year, Adkins also has been employed as an Expert against the Parents Rights bill, which would prevent schools from having conversations on sex and gender with students without informing parents. She has also spoken out against a bill seeking to limit child transitions with surgery.
There’s a similar figure on abortion, who is pushed to the front as the Expert on that topic — Dr. Amy Bryant an OBGYN with UNC Hospitals.
In a recent ABC 11 story, they framed an entire article around the premise that miscarriages could become legally questionable if S.B. 20 passes, backing that assertion with quotes from Bryant, as if she were just a random unbiased doctor.
In reality, miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, both of which are the subject of repeated scare-tactic articles, are explicitly excluded from being defined as abortions under the bill. Bryant didn’t mention that, though, because she is far from an unbiased doctor. She is an abortion activist whose name is at the center of the many of the legal challenges to the state’s abortion laws, including the medication abortion lawsuit (Bryant v. Stein) and the injunction on N.C.’s current 20-week ban (Bryant v. Woodall) that held until the Dobbs decision.
The media doesn’t tend to see these Experts as biased combatants in cultural battles between ethical worldviews, though. They see those like Adkins and Bryant as simply members of their profession giving us the science (and as the yard signs say, We believe science is real). One of the worst examples of this is Justin Parmenter, an activist with the NCAE teachers union, who is frequently given press as if he is just an Expert teacher.
For conservatives, it’s very obvious what is going on when Adkins says that there’s no evidence that men are stronger than women, ignoring all evidence ever compiled, or when a librarian clutches her pearls over banning a pornographic book. We see they’re using the institutions they’ve captured to speak obvious nonsense that advances their pet causes. They’re using their narrow expertise to speak on moral questions they are not qualified to speak to, or at least are no more qualified than anyone else.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire
But a word of warning. When we see that these official institutions have been taken over by ideological opponents focused on advancing their progressive worldview, we need to maintain our healthy skepticism when choosing alternative sources of information.
A recent poll of which news sources Americans trust, published by YouGov, found Republicans were much more likely to trust sites like InfoWars and Breitbart than CNN or NPR. I would definitely agree that CNN and NPR are biased to the left and should be read very skeptically, but conservatives should demand higher standards, not lower, if we want alternatives to propaganda.
Realizing that the Experts are simply ideologues hiding behind degrees and titles should send us on a search for more reliable sources of truth, not send us into the arms of someone who just tells us more comforting falsehoods. If the public is presented two liars, one with all the polish and credibility of their lofty institution, and the other shouting dubious theories absent logic and tact, we shouldn’t be surprised if the Expert liars win.