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Kirby: Think you're an expert? Go ahead and prove it

Published December 18, 2012 2:20 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If the world was a perfect place, everyone in it would get the chance to run things their way, just to see how smart they really are.

I only bring this up because of the number of people I know who seem to be smarter than everyone else.

It's astonishing how many erstwhile experts there are on any given subject, and yet, with all the benefit of their fabulous wisdom, things are still horribly a mess. How is that possible?

Two reasons: either because the rest of us have blithely dismissed these experts as fatuous ignorant gasbags, or…OK, there's really only that reason.

But what if they're right? We'll never truly experience the benefit of their brilliance in matters of such extreme importance as foreign police and the national debt.

We won't get to see how they're munificent opinion applied to real life. Are they really smarter than the president, doctors, researchers, cops, teachers and even garbage truck drivers?

Could you actually do the president's job, command troops in the field, outsmart doctors or coach a football team to the Super Bowl?

What if there was a way to prove whether we were as smart as our opinions led us to believe? What would it take?

No, not a reality show. Something more akin to actual reality.

Wouldn't it be great if there were parallel dimensions where we all got to test our opinions, theories and supercilious prattle? A place exactly like the real world, but where the rest of us didn't have to pay for their mistakes?

For example, I have long held that your average candidate for public office is no smarter than fudge. The kind with nuts in it.

If there was a genetic marker for the sort of people who would run for public office, I believe the rest of us would be perfectly within our right to guillotine them upon their graduation from high school.

But could I do a better job? What if I'm not smarter than they are? Suppose the job is a hell of a lot tougher and more complicated than my opinion allowed for?

We'd find out in the fix-it dimension. Suddenly I'm a congressman. Important decisions are flying my way at light speed. Do I make the right choices?

In the fix-it dimension it's possible to fast forward the effects of your decision to find out.

Everyone could check back later to see how well I had done, or if I was even still alive.

I'm betting that I'd find out real quick that I'm not nearly as smart about politics as I thought, and that it's far more difficult a job than my expert opinion allowed for.

We'd probably find the same thing out about you if we made you a police chief or a long haul trucker, or gave you the ability to put Hostess products back in the food chain.

If you haven't done somebody else's job before, there's a lot more to it than you think. And if you were able to make the decisions in matters that you really don't know anything about, would the rest of us applaud or hang you?

There's already a fix-it dimension. It's called life. If you think you could do someone else's job better than they're doing it, there's probably a good reason why you aren't.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.