10/27 Flashback: Reality bites

10/27 Flashback: Reality bites October 27, 2022

From October 27, 2011, “Siding with the scientific consensus of secular knowledge

I feel grateful reading this post from 11 years ago because, well, I no longer have that toothache.


So after going through a couple of bottles of Anbesol and walking around for a week looking like Caesar Rodney, I finally gave in and made an appointment with a dentist.

I’d been putting that off partly due to the financial aspect and mainly due to six very unpleasant years of orthodonture and oral surgery when I was a teenager. (Among other things, I had to have my fourth molars removed. Yes, I had fourth molars. It was bad.)

But I’m headed out to the dentist this afternoon because that’s what dentists are for and I need one. I’m going to the dentist because: A) She is an expert at this, and B) I am not.

So in Charles Fort’s terms, I am once again displaying my slavish devotion to the priestcraft of scientific experts. In Al Mohler’s terms, I’m opting to allow secular knowledge to trump sectarian ideology and thus, I suppose, rejecting the Bible. And Joe Carter probably thinks I’m only deferring to the scientific consensus of dentistry in order to curry favor with snooty Harvard intellectuals and East Coast media elites.

But the fact is that I’ve got a toothache. The tooth damaged years ago during the removal of the three supernumeraries behind it was neatly reconstructed at the time, but I was told that I’d probably need to get it fixed again someday. That someday, it seems, is now.

Faced with a throbbing jaw, I think it’s reasonable and smart not to pretend that I know more than the experts do. Right now, a bit of the old priestcraft of scientific expertise and the judicious application of wholly secular knowledge is just what the situation calls for.

And I’m not looking for a dentist who thinks of himself as a radical “skeptic” bravely bucking the overwhelming scientific consensus. I don’t even want to go to one of the 20 percent of dentists that I’m told still recommends chewing sugary gum. I haven’t been to this dentist before, but if she tells me that she’s a renegade contrarian thinker with a theory that toothaches are due to sunspot activity, or that the dental consensus is really a massive conspiracy funded by the floss industry,* then I’m leaving to find someone else who’s less of a renegade.

So contra Fort, Mohler and Carter, I will be siding with the scientific consensus of secular knowledge, blindly trusting their priestcraft.

I say “blindly” because once I get in that chair my eyes will be clamped shut.

Anyway, I hope to be back this evening to resume blogging. Possibly about Jell-o, oatmeal and room-temperature smoothies.

* The floss industry, I’m told, makes a mint.

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