Beware the Experts, For They Know Not What They Do

 

Anyone can make a mistake, but to really mess things up requires a degree and the dubious title of ‘expert’.

I don’t know about you, but as I occasionally peek out of my own insulating bubble of indifference I get the feeling the world seems to have lost its grip on common sense. The combined wisdom of generations upon generations of ‘old wives’ and ‘jack-of-all-trades type men’ seems to have been whisked away like a fart in an over-complicated cyclone. We’re less healthy now than we’ve ever been (the occasional medieval plague not withstanding), we’re more broke that previous generations and our literacy and numeracy levels are falling faster than a sky-diver with no parachute.

How, in this day and age, is this happening? As alluded to in my opening sentence, I reckon the answer is ‘experts’. We’ve outsourced our common sense and faithfully placed in the loving hands of experts who have been trained in a particular area, because, ya know, apparently they know about these things. But if you have a close look at things, our world’s downhill slide began shortly after the rise in the numbers of people undertaking university education.

I left school just as this tertiary education craze was just taking off, but back then you only really considered university if you were going into law or medicine or some other ‘high-end calling’. Not so these days. I just did a quick perusal of casual jobs etc and just about everything these days requires some kind of certificate or qualification. I kid you not, even an ad for a kitchen hand/dishwasher wanted some kind of food safety certificate. To wash dishes……..

Anyway, as usual I digress. This upward trend in the number of people running around with degrees means that they all have to find something to do to justify the tens of thousands of dollars they’ve just spent on their ejukation. So what do they do? They take an issue, say for example ‘are potatoes bad for you’, undertake a study whereby they interview one hundred patients in a cancer ward, ask if they’ve ever eaten a potato and then conclusively state that potatoes give you cancer. And because they claim to be experts we all stop eating spuds.

Over exaggerating? Maybe, but look at the evidence, an apply common sense. Take the three areas I mentioned above – our health, our finances and our education. All three areas have highly educated experts and intellectuals conducting studies and developing theories designed to take us forward into a bright future. But are we heading that way? Uh uh.

I find it slightly amusing that just a mere couple of generations ago, Grannies the world over, with no formal nutritional training were serving their families balanced, healthy meals and obesity really was the domain of the lazy or glutinous, or in rare cases medical conditions. These days, although the stigma still seems to stick, it’s not the case. I know of quite a few people who do everything right, as far as the experts say, and still gain weight. They eat low fat this, and diet that, they exercise as much as their bodies will allow them and they follow the latest fad diet some nutritionist says is this week’s super diet. And…..nothing but expanding waistlines to show for it.

“But we’re living longer.” The defenders of intellect will tell you, and yes they’re right. But just because we’re living longer, doesn’t mean we’re living healthier. Our longevity is due to artificial intervention in the form of medicines. Heart disease is at levels unheard of even fifty years ago, but it’s ok because they have a pill for that. I could go on but you get the idea.

As for finance, well I’m about as sharp as a marble in this area, but even I can see people are struggling more now than they were in the 1950’s and 60’s. Back then your average family of Mum, Dad and two and a half kids, could pretty much have it all on just the one wage. They could afford a modest shanty, school education and some decent tucker on the table. More often than not they could also afford an annual holiday somewhere across this wide brown land of ours. Try that now, it’s impossible. Today’s average family probably has both Mum and Dad at work, the kids in child-care, fast food because no one has time to cook and an annual holiday? Forget it. Even if you don’t buy a house, a very large slab of your wage goes towards paying rent and it’s all very difficult to cope with and not to resort to Government assistance.

But the finance sector has been saying we’re doing well for decades. Economic growth is powering ahead and the models predict that it will continue to do so. What a wonderful age of economic certainty we live in. Well the increasing number of dejected, defeated-looking people sitting by their meagre possessions I see on the streets as I walk to and from work every day, tend to suggest that the rosy picture the experts are painting is more ‘abstract’ than ‘real-life’.

And then there’s education. As the father of three youngn’s who have traversed the system, all I can say is thank the Gods that’s over. It has been incredibly frustrating watching the ‘techniques’ that teachers are being told to instruct. I actually had to stop trying to help my kids because my old-school, common sense approach to simple mathematics was confusing the poor little buggers because their teachers showed them some weird kind of line diagram with looping bits connecting different bits, just to add two numbers together.

I find it incredible that people from my generation, ie those who left school in the early to mid-1990’s, and generations before all received their education with nothing more than a pen and paper, maybe a text book, and un-fettered access to the school library’s Encyclopaedia Britannica. Today’s students have access to all the information in the world with just a click of the mouse, and yet their basic literacy and numeracy skills, as well as their abilities to think for themselves, are so far below the levels of previous generations. This is not an indictment of today’s students. They are, after all, made up of all the same bits and pieces we were. It’s a damning indictment of the experts systematic destruction of all the things which used to work perfectly well, just to try and justify their own existence by conducting ‘studies’ and telling us all to change age-old practices accordingly.

So there, I’ve identified the problem. So what’s the solution? It’s quite simple really. Start prizing common sense over excessive education. To the parents of school aged children and our current crop of teachers, don’t hold university as the only aim worthy of reaching. Do this not just in meaningless words but in action. For example, for each of my kids going into year 10 at school there was an information night on how to select subjects for senior school. It consisted of fifteen to twenty minutes of what to do for a trades or traineeships, and then a further hour and a half on university pathways. It gives kids the impression that practical vocations are not worth much.

Anyway, employers have a role to play as well. Stop looking for 18 year old school leavers with 10 years’ experience in the exact role you need. Instead, take an un-skilled young adult and provide them with the skills in a real-world situation. You’ll end up with a better trained employee who has a natural ability to learn on the job. And it’ll keep them from falling into the tertiary education trap, where they will end up having to justify their existence by becoming experts and conducting studies.

And finally, if someone tells you they’re an expert, just remember that very few experts have any real expertise in the area they pretend to be expert in. Question everything they tell you, and use your own common sense.

I’m out.

It’s a Free Country Mate.

 

So it 12:36 in the morning and despite being as knackered as a three legged race horse all day, I’ve now spent in excess of two hours tossing and turning trying to get to sleep because my brain just won’t shut down. So rather than fight it I figured I’d make the most of my insomnia and attempt to write down exactly what it is that has me awake at this hour.

“What could possibly be floating around inside your noggin at this hour?” You may well ask.

Well for the most part it’s usually just a torrent of useless and pointless thoughts, for example ‘do penguins taste like chicken or fish”. But in the last hour or so it seems to have melded into a stream of thought revolving around how exactly Australia, this wonderful country that I love, is no longer the free and easy going country it used to be. Here’s just a quick example of what I mean.

1976

“G’day mate. Is it alright if I park my car here while I duck into the pub for a quick one on the way home?”

“Yeah no worries Cobber. It’s a free country eh.”

2016

“G’day mate. Is it alright if I park my car here while I duck into the pub for a quick one on the way home?”

“Geez mate, it’s 5.40 on a week day. If ya park here the bloke from the Council will fine ya for illegal parking, but if you wait until after 6 then ya can park for 10 minutes if you drive a blue car and for 15 minutes if your missus parks. Or ya can go 5 metres up the road where you can park for half an hour, unless you’re a blue collar worker in which case don’t bother. And if ya going into the pub it’s only light beer before 7, or you can drink as much wine as you like because it’s classy and classy people don’t get pissed. But if you do have a beer then be careful because the local copper usually sits just down the road and pulls up everyone at this time of the day, not because he wants to, it’s just that the local MP has a bee in his bonnet because someone had a beer last week and drove over the centre line of the road and Mrs Smith had a whinge because he came within 10 metres of running over her pet garden gnome.”

Bloody hell. How did we get here? How is it that we’ve become so tightly regulated that if you joke about someone’s ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religious beliefs, or whistle at a good looking sort (or bloke if you happen to be a good looking sort) or have a beer at the wrong time of day you can get yourself into some serious trouble.

Well, I’ve been thinking about that for the last hour or so, not because I want to but because, ya know, insomnia and I reckon I’ve hit on it. I’ll give you a bit of an example.

It’s a slow news day and Chanel X Nightly Exclusive Sensation News Service is short of a scandal for tonight’s bulletin. Someone way up the back of the mail room points out that every year, hundreds of Australians are killed or injured due to exposure to dihydrogen monoxide. Brilliant, Mr or Ms Editor thinks to themselves, and so in the advertising blitz leading up to the bulletin it gets splashed around “Hundreds die from exposure to dangerous chemical. Governments do nothing.”

“Bugger me.” The Great Unwashed all breathe as one. “Better watch that so I don’t get sick or die.”

Six o’clock rolls around and an expectant nation crowds around it’s TV sets ready to be told what to believe.

“In a Chanel X exclusive,” says the silver-haired, distinguished looking anchor while his young and attractive, yet intelligent looking female co-host looks on seriously, “it has been discovered that every year hundreds of Australians are killed and many others suffer injuries and brain damage from exposure to dihydrogen monoxide. Victims are unaware of the dangers of this terrible chemical which has flowed unchecked through our rivers, in our dams and has even been found in back yard swimming pools and yet Governments are doing nothing to stem the flow. We cross now to a young women standing in front of a camera in front of a Government building to give this coverage more impact. Constance?”

“Thanks Silver Fox. I’m standing here in front of Parliament House waiting for someone who I can badger mercilessly in order to show that at Chanel X we do hard-hitting journalism like no other news service. And despite standing here for hours, not one representative has been willing to comment on this disaster. Back to you.”

And after witnessing this spectacle the great non-thinkers are now in a panic. It’s in the rivers and dams and now I can’t even swim in my backyard pool. The Government doesn’t care. It’s not good enough, I say! And won’t someone please think of the children!

And so the next day pressure starts to build on the politicians. Totally unaware of the full depths of the crisis and terrified of losing the next election, a parliamentary enquiry is commenced, at a cost of $60 000 000 tax payer dollars and eventually a 2000 page report is tabled in Parliament and before you can say “what a waste of time and money” the “Dihydrogen Monoxide Control Act 2016” is enacted and for your own safety and peace of mind the Government now controls it’s citizens exposure to dihydrogen monoxide, or as it’s more commonly known – water.

Yes it sounds ridiculous, but it’s been happening for years. Look at just about every piece of nanny state regulation passed over the last 30 years and you’ll see it. Whether it’s alcohol laws, gun laws, smoking laws or even our freedom to jump in a four wheel drive and camp for free out in the bush, there is always a media frenzy whipping up fear in response to some incident or perceived threat, the un-thinking masses do as their commanded by the media and special interest groups and apply pressure to the politicians who in turn, in an effort to be seen to be doing something pass another stupid law. Each time one more precious piece of our personal freedom is chipped away.

It has been such a gradual process that nobody seems to have recognised it. Each time something happens and the social warriors kick their outrage into high gear, the grip of regulation gets tighter and tighter and all those things we once took for granted are now illegal, expensive or choked in red tape.

What can we do to turn this around and get back to the way things should be?football-meat-pies-kangaroos-and-holden-cars

It’s a free country? Bullshit.

Stand Proud My Bogan Brethren.

BOGAN. The word conjures up many images and is usually used in a derogatory manner, as though someone who is a “bogan” is somehow a lesser human being. Upon hearing the word we probably all picture Jonno with his black AC/DC t-shirt with the packet of Winnie Blues in the sleeve, ripped jeans and thongs with a nicely plaited rat’s tail hanging on the back of his head.

But is this really the case? These days when walking around our towns and cities you’re likely to come across a bunch of soft-skinned, well dressed men who spend more time in front of a mirror, or clothes shopping than their girlfriends do. Is referring to those of us who are happy enough with a number 2 haircut and a three day growth a bogan, merely a way of trying to make themselves feel more masculine despite the hair product and facial moisturisers?

In short, is this a case of the “wanna-be-pseudo-European” types versus the “happy-to –be-a-typical-bloke” type?
As you’ve probably guessed by now I happily, nay proudly, refer to myself as a bogan. I drive a lifted Hilux (well I did before I drowned it out the back of the Glasshouse Mountains, oops), go off-roading and camping whenever I can. I consider thongs, shorts and a Jackie Howe singlet to be formal wear. I no longer smoke, but when I did, it was a rollie made with the good old Tally-Ho paper. I prefer good old VB or XXXX to any of that overpriced imported rubbish. And don’t get me started on wine – wine is usually what is created after a good night on the Veebs.
My idea of the perfect social gathering is a few good mates, a bbq, a trestle table in the back yard with all the salads sitting on it, with a couple dozen coldies sitting in the ice in the laundry tubs. Or alternatively – a few good mates, mud spattered four wheels drives in the back ground, a camp fire with a few charcoaled saussies on a bit of bread, some dead horse and onions and a couple dozen coldies distributed among a few eskies.

Yep, you can forget all your fancy resorts, 5-star restaurants with some clown dressed up like a penguin asking if you’d like freshly ground pepper with your fillet mignon, as if shaking a bit of pepper requires an intensive four year apprenticeship. All the while sitting in an enclosed space with a hundred other people all sucking in the same recirculated, air conditioned air and paying $50 for a 50 cent sized piece of steak. All for the dubious honour of emulating our more “sophisticated” European counter parts.

So by now those who don’t know me are probably picturing a poorly educated red neck with more missing teeth than your average pommy soccer riot veteran, a skanky missus named Shazza and a bunch of snotty nosed brats running around the caravan park which we call home. Well you’d be wrong. I’m actually gainfully employed, an author and future business owner (fingers crossed), never been to university but am well educated (through study and personal experience). I’m a single father who has already successfully raised a son and daughter to graduation and am continuing to steer the other daughter in the right direction. My son was school captain in primary school, one daughter was vice captain and the other daughter received a mark in her year 7 NAPLAN test which was literally off the scale and is currently a Year 12 Prefect.

How’s that stereotype looking now?

As I alluded to in the opening, the term bogan seems to be used in order to denigrate anyone who doesn’t show the required embarrassment at being a “typical” Australian. This then begs the question, why? Why the need to denigrate a down to earth, laid back larrikin who likes his beer, bbqs, the great outdoors, footy and cricket? Is it a throwback to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when the members of Australia’s high society were ashamed of their own, or their family’s convict past?

Is it a part of what appears to be our ingrained inferiority complex. In our early years we attempted to emulate Mother England, to establish a European style society in a far off land. After Churchill was willing to leave us hanging and open to Japanese invasion and we realised Old Mum wasn’t really going to look after us, we turned to a new higher power. Like a child who progresses into adolescence we forsook the staid old parent figure of England and followed around a new, slightly dangerous older teen – America. Thankfully I think we’re starting to realise this exciting older teen is actually a bit of a dickhead and are beginning to move away from them.

Throughout this whole time, only one group of people (apart from aboriginals) haven’t tried to pretend that they belong to either a European or American culture – the typical Aussie, or bogan if that’s what you want to call us.
Isn’t it time we all stopped trying to be something we shouldn’t really be? Unlike Europe, we actually have a great climate down here. Why not get out and enjoy it, rather than locking yourselves away in climate controlled galleries and restaurants because that’s what the Europeans do? Why should we follow every trend which spews forth from Uncle Sam?

As Australians we may not be cultured in the traditional sense, but we do have our own culture. It is one which is the envy of a lot of the world. We have a freedom here which so many other countries can only dream of. It’s a freedom built on the concept of a fair go for all. A freedom which was hard won by the miners at Eureka, the great shearers strike in the 1880’s, the rum rebellion and countless other instances of ordinary Australians standing up to the delusions of grandeur of those who would impose another countries culture and values upon Australia. And not a hair product or designer brand shirt among them.

It has always fallen on the typical Australian, or Bogan, to maintain and sometimes fight for the unique culture and way of life this country offers. Whether it’s been the miner, the shearer, the station hand, the chippy, the publican, the soldier or those amazing pioneering women who bravely followed their blokes into the unknown, this country has been built on the backs of those who look to Australia for their inspiration, not those who look outside.

Long live the bogan and long may we reign.

Put ya bloody victim card away!

No doubt the following post will raise the ire of many, so before embarking upon it just let me state, up front, that I fully and unequivocally support equal opportunity for women. I say again in case anyone missed it, I fully and unequivocally support equal opportunity for women. If at any stage throughout the following paragraphs the urge to shout “misogynist” becomes uncontrollable, please refer back to the opening paragraph.

So, this is not so much a rant as it is a plea. A plea to all the militant feminists out there. Please can you refrain from being such piss poor role models for my daughters? I have spent the last 18 and 17 years respectively raising my daughters to be strong, independent and resilient and to accept full and total responsibility for all aspects of their lives. It is, however, getting more and more difficult to make them believe this is possible for them.

Why? Let me tell you.

In the current media frenzy of each outlet scrambling to assert their Political Correctness credentials, whenever something of an unfortunate nature befalls a woman the well-worn victim card is played with wild abandon. Didn’t get the job? Weren’t afforded the full respect you feel you deserve? Didn’t get your desired outcome in a plethora of various endeavours? Then scream ‘victim’ and look to someone else to blame. And who would that someone else be, I wonder?

Men.

Ah yes, the fashionable conspiracy theory of the enlightened feminist. The Patriarchy. That evil, clandestine organisation which apparently meets regularly to develop this month’s addition to the ongoing strategy for oppression of all womankind. It’s like The Illuminati, God/Allah/Yahweh, Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny all rolled into one malevolently evil ball of testosterone. An all-powerful, all-knowing entity controlling the world and just like all those other fairy tales, it’s an entity which no one has ever seen or doesn’t have any credible evidence to support the existence thereof.

But who needs evidence when a mythical bogey man suits your cause better? Who needs evidence when you can throw around impressive sounding catch phrases like ‘pay gap’, ‘glass ceilings’ and the like. You can even throw in numbers to make it sound even more compelling, such as ‘a 17% pay gap’. The professional victim society loves that one. They don’t back it up with meaningful studies or context. Rather than critically reviewing the reasons why this figure exists, it’s just easier to say it is true because…..well….ya know……it just is you misogynistic bastard!

Analysing the real metrics behind this assertion may lead the feminists into uncomfortable territory, such as maybe it’s women themselves who are responsible for this gap. Maybe a majority of women simply aren’t interested in those higher paid roles, whether they be CEO roles, mining jobs or even dangerous deep sea diving jobs. Maybe they actually choose to put their careers on hold so they can stay home and spend some quality time with their children, and it’s actually nothing to do with an oppressive husband demanding that sacrifice from them.

“But you don’t know what it’s like to have to juggle work and raise a family, you insensitive male bastard.” That’s usually the response that works its way into any conversation involving equality at about this stage. Well Sista strap yaself in and I’ll tell you how painfully aware I am of the trials and tribulations of raising kids while holding down full time work.

Almost right from the start, the female DNA provider (I struggle to refer to her as a mother) in this story proved herself to be more of a liability that an asset with anything to do with our marriage and raising our three kids. So upon our divorce I was the one who took the responsibility of taking care of every need my kids had. I fed them, I clothed them, I cleaned up after them, I assisted with homework, I provided the shoulder to cry on when the bullying got too much. I did the running around to sports practice and games, the parent teacher interviews, attending school excursions, I sewed damaged school uniforms and did the weekly grocery shopping.

Even on the rare occasions when the female DNA donor actually deemed to take care of them for a night, or even more rarely a week, I still ensured I called in on them, just to say hello and enjoy those few minutes of their company on those days. And while doing all this, guess what, I also held down a full time job. No glamorous jobs, not particularly interesting jobs. I even opted out of applying for such jobs because they were going to take away my ability to give my kids the time they needed, even though they would mean more money in the bank account.

Unfortunately during this time, my nearest family lived over six hours away and although I know they desperately wanted to help, not only was it not practical but it also wasn’t their responsibility. My parents had already raised their five children, it was their time to relax and enjoy their lives, not to be further burdened by my poor choice of mother for my children. It was MY responsibility, MY bad choice and the only good thing to come out of it were MY children.

And here’s my point. At no time during this whole period have I ever run around and played the victim card. I took, and continue to take, full responsibility for my situation. I didn’t run around sprouting imaginary facts and figures, creating mythical oppressive societies and laying the blame for anything at the feet of other people.

I didn’t demand that the world in general change the way it was because it wasn’t working out exactly as I felt that it should. I accepted it, knuckled down and did what needed to be done to make sure my kids got the best start possible and as a result not only am I a stronger and better person for it, but I have provided an example to my children on how they should conduct themselves throughout their lives.

They know that the world owes them nothing. They know they alone are responsible for how they handle their situations. They know that if they want something, then they need to work bloody hard for it. If at first they don’t succeed, find out why and then work on it so that next time they try, they’ll win. And they will be stronger, more resilient and better people for it.

So when they see the feminist brigade playing the victim card every time something goes against them, it has the potential to chip away at the understanding my girls have developed. If the only ‘strong’ women they see portrayed in the media are the ones who are running around playing the victim then there’s always the chance that at some point they might just decide it’s easier to be victims themselves and blame the Patriarchy and stagnate in their lives, rather than dig their heels in and make themselves such an attractive prospect to any future potential employer that their gender will be irrelevant.

And they’ll have the satisfaction of knowing they got the position because they were the best candidate, not because their employer was too scared of the backlash from the feminists if they were to offer the position to a better qualified male.

So my plea to all the professional victim feminists out there, stop selling out my daughters’ future for your own agenda, your own confected outrage, and allow them the opportunity to grow into the strong, independent and responsible women that I have raised them to be.

victim-card