We must trust the experts, except when we cannot, and there is a particular kind of expert that is too often wrong: the expert who distills consensus opinion and makes it normative for all, smoothing out all the cranky dissent in every discipline. If one goes back one hundred years, this kind of expert opinion about what is happening, what is moral, or what we should believe is hopelessly wrong.
I have yet to find an era where these homogenizing experts are not wrong. In my grandparent’s era, Wilsonian hubris and scientific racism were the evil rage. In my parent’s era, traditional Christianity was doomed, because the “experts” missed a revival happening as they wrote and confused Western Europe and the USA with the world.
Orthodox Christianity goes on losing century after century, just to someone new. We are the intellectual anvil that outlasts all the hammers.
At least, we should be.
When we team up with a particular kind of “expert” or develop our own inbred culture of expertise, we can be just as clueless. Doubt this?
Try reading a book from one hundred years ago such as “The Second Phase of the Great War.” This is a heavily illustrated text and fairly detailed for a popular level account. If you think paintings of Russian cavalry charges are anything but sad, this is the book for you. There is a fantastic painting of a Russian priest blessing troops with an icon, only the priest is using a crucifix, Latin style. The War is Great War, because it will end war. Britain is noble and the lads are ok.
They were not all right, as any reading of CS Lewis or JRR Tolkien will tell you. The lads were in the muck, fighting a war without fundamental chivalry, a post-Christian, social Darwinian horror show. The secularism of Western elites with a lazy scientific racism was combined with “Christianity” for the workers. One wonders if that was not to keep us in line. We would fight for King and country (and we should fight for King and country) when in reality we were fighting for decadence and the power of these elites: All for the homeland, nothing for colonialism.
These sentiments, genuine enough to be found from ancient Greece to Aksum to West Virginia are pure, but the powerful, rotten to the moral core, used to manipulate the masses. We will go fight for the Orthodox Tsar while those around him party away the Empire. We will stand for Great Britain while the powerful reckon Darwinism (not science, but secular sociology) will cull our numbers and so leave the fit to breed. We will fly for them as Tuskegee airmen only to have them use us in their wicked experiments.
The expert we should doubt is the man who will not tell us what he really believes, but gives the truth to us in a manner “we” can understand. West Virginians have one hundred and fifty years of being told what we want to hear by people who laugh at us when the doors are closed. Does this happen? I have seen it. I have seen Republican leaders tell a crowd what the crowd wished to be true only to laugh at them when the event was done.
Meanwhile one can read the previous generations Mainstream Expert Opinion written books explaining why this Great War is the last war, chivalric, and fine. All the while, these dunces were opening the door for the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, and an ever expanding vile empire. As for the hobbits, we are used, mocked, and consumed.
The grift continues, because if you grew up “conservative” the “liberal” (or “socialist”) elite opinion will placate you with your awakening. If you grew up liberal or socialist, the so-called conservative or Christian elite will sooth you with how wise you are. The fierce dialectic that challenges all, the justice of Mary’s Magnificat, will go missing. Why?
Any integrity, any reality, will expose the decadent, the overly hasty expert, quickly.
Beware the “expert” who is really just a quick regurgitation of elite opinion. The nuance we miss could have saved us from World War I, colonialism, the Confederacy, and killing Jesus.