Recently I posted an article highly critical of expert advice. I thought it might be beneficial to my readers to explain how I spot credible experts. Understand, I am not reviewing venues of information, I am reviewing people I esteem to be wise. These people can teach me how to evaluate data and draw the most profitable conclusions from the raw data. My filters are simple and easy to employ, with two caveats. We are dependent on experts in so many ways because nobody can be expert on more than a few topics and few of us are truly expert on even one, never mind every topic of import. If we are ever to discern truth from the myriad of views on so many topics of such great import, we must first discern who is able to draw wisdom from the available data. It isn't that the data is not available as much as it is that the agenda and prejudice of our advisors prevents even licensed, proclaimed, paid, esteemed experts from discerning what the data means and therefor what course we should chart through life's current events.
The first filter I'll call the BS filter. This is a very course filter which screens out the obvious propaganda and ideology-fueled, false conclusions from all sides of any issue. I pay attention to the names associated with these venues of mis-information so I can quickly dismiss anything they contribute in the future. Quite literally their contribution is more often detrimental to your personal navigation of life, than beneficial.
The second filter is a lot more difficult to spot, but once spotted, I know what topic I can most assuredly receive conclusive information from this individual on. This one is slightly finer and I call it the "Aha" filter. In reading their testimony on the moment they focused on their area of expertise, they testify they realized they had been misinformed by the established wisdom dissemination machine or they were required to purposefully misinform in order to preserve their status with the establishment. Here are examples of a topic which is highly covered but has few true wisdom filled informants.
Lori Gottleib wrote an article which led to a book called "Marry Him." In both she describes herself as a Liberal and a feminist. As a feminist she advises women to settle for Mr. Good Enough rather than holding out and insisting on Mr. Perfect. This was met with extreme rejection by her feminist cohorts. Even so, her testimony included the realization that she was the reason she was alone, she had chosen to become a single mother and skip the messy marriage part since Mr. Perfect seemed to be non-existent, but that she had cheated herself, that a man has much to contribute to her life and that she and her child were missing this contribution because she insisted on perfection or nothing and preferred nothing. So, I learned by this testimony that I could trust her input on the women's movement promoting self deprivation in the relationship department. She was speaking against conventional wisdom in the women's activist movement via personal observations. I still can't trust anything she has to contribute on politics, religion, morality, or even assessing the value of men.
Another individual I came across is a psychologist who sat on the board of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and who sacrificed his popularity and position with NOW by refusing to promote the NOW agenda when it was refuted by the inconvenient facts. His name is Warren Farrell and his "aha" moment was the requirement that truth be sacrificed for the radical agenda of NOW, even by the establishment media. His politics and conclusions remain liberal to this day, but he writes and speaks the truth he personally observes about how men and women relate. Given his liberal tendencies, his advice is skewed on how to value the other gender, but he does observe and recognizes the devaluation of men by general society.
A few months later, Dennis Prager invited a guest on his show who not only had written some books on male/female relationships, but began an organization (PAX) which held seminars to train men and women to relate to each other in healthy and the most beneficial ways. Her name is Allison Armstrong. This woman is amazing, but her "aha" moment as she tells it was when her girlfriend called her and told her about talking to a man about why men start out being princes and then turn into frogs. His answer didn't go over so well with the girlfriend but Allison was able to receive it through the girlfriend since she was not the direct target, and make use of it. He'd said to the girlfriend, "Oh I get it, you're a frog farmer. Some women kiss frogs and turn them into princes, but you kiss princes and turn them into frogs." On hearing this story from her girlfriend, Allison had visions of a big white farmhouse with rows and rows of frogs with men's faces starting with her ex-husband and progressing through all the successive boyfriends she'd ever had. Counter-intuitively, she found this empowering. Up to this point she'd thought herself powerless with men, but if she had the power to make princes into frogs then if she could just find out how she was doing it, she could reverse the process and turn the frogs into princes. The result was in a few years her friends were asking her to teach them how to be with men. I can trust this woman's contribution on the topic of gender valuation implicitly. Not only did she have the 'aha' moment, but she successfully used that moment to completely reverse her course along socio-gender valuation, moral and political paths as she learned that men aren't the typical simpletons everyone knew we are. That she and all women can have the spouse/mate they've always desired through receiving with an open mind, some unattractive facts and drawing new conclusions.
This leads me to the finer third filter which I'll call the truthing conversion. This one requires a radical result from the 'aha' moment as the expert investigated further, now that they were on the right track to discovering true information. Warren Farrell was committed to his truth as he knew it and that was a radical commitment, but his stubborn adherence to previous conclusions prevented him from successfully incorporating new information along the same radical path to complete enlightenment. Allison was completely transformed from feminist to open minded willing recipient of unattractive data. She had to toss out all previous conclusions on her topic of expertise. Plus, realizing how wrong she and the entire establishment had the topic, she looked a little further and realized the same was probably true in every other area of social import.
The fourth and finest filter I employ I'll call the 'mutual uncommon knowledge' filter. This is knowledge that is common between the expert and myself but uncommon among the general populace. Since I am most knowledgeable on the topic of faith and morality, if the expert holds many of the same conclusions with the available data as do I then most likely he or she has been through many of the same kinds of trials as I. Therefor they reached their conclusions the same way as I and I reached mine by 'aha' realization, by investigation for myself, and by open-minded self evaluation with unattractive data. I was and often still am my own worst enemy. I must regularly evaluate my prejudices, my motivations, and my conclusions in nearly every topic especially with regard to unattractive data. I can more fully trust the conclusions of experts with whom I identify on this level. They, like me are forced to a continual re-examination of the relevant data and re-evaluation of personal prejudice and motivations. The implicit caveat here is you must have enough experience, (you must have tossed out all former conclusions to re-investigate and re-evaluate the available data in a common area of knowledge) to compare experiences to others.'
MUK (mutual uncommon knowledge) filter
There is yet another filter and this filter is reserved for the people and ideas that are most intimate to my life. I hinted at it in the fourth filter but this one is based on a common experience with the God we have in common. The closer their experience with God, to mine, the deeper my trust in their capacity to discern wisdom from and through the Bible, commentaries, and other Spirit inspired works. I don't mean their sin and recovery have to reflect mine, I do mean their perception of God must reflect my own, as in God is real and present and wonderful and working on me right now. I value contributions by these people and ideas as the 'Living Water' described in John 4:14. Always, always this information must line up with the information in the Bible. If it opposes the Bible, it is wrong, period, end of discussion.
If you are looking for expert advice on any topic, these are my recommendations:
1. Find an expert that is reputed to have uncommon wisdom in his area of expertise.
2. Find an expert that does not rely on conventional wisdom nor accepts data without investigation.
3. Find an expert that demonstrably improves the general knowledge in the area of his expertise.
4. Find an expert you can relate to vicariously via his or her testimony on uncommon knowledge you share.
5. When you find the expert you can trust, you still need to evaluate his contribution on every topic, especially the one you sought him or her out for. Nobody is perfect and nobody has 100% accuracy rates even in their field of study and expertise.
6. As far as is possible, investigate for yourself the topic you expect to receive advice in, as deeply as you can.
7. Nothing you hear is going to be properly screened without the preparation of reading, understanding and applying the life lessons learned through the scriptures.
Some of my vicarious mentors do not fit this model exactly. Those who do not stood out in their youth as extraordinary, deep, mature, and/or were considered wise beyond their years. For instance, Jack Hayford was a youth apart from his peers in the sense that he was a practicing and committed Christian while the rest were accepting the directions and submitting to the establishment we now know to be primarily misinformants. My mentors don't have to be practitioners of the same religion as mine, but they must hold the same values as do I, especially within their area of expertise.
At some point in your collection of experts/mentors, you come to the realization of a trend and the hunt for mentors doesn't require the elementary stages of investigation. You still must bring skepticism to every bit of advice and to every conclusion, but the general notion of what to look for begins to take on a recognizable shape, in my case Christian conservatism, Jewish conservatism, laissez faire economics, but always always confirm truth via experience and where experience is unattainable, long established standards like the Bible and the Constitution of the United States.
While I have personal relationships with people I consider mentors, here is a list of experts I use as vicarious mentors.
You've met Area of expertise:
Allison Armstrong. Gender valuation and male/female relationships.
Now meet more of my favorite experts:
John Rosemond Child Rearing
Ted Baehr Entertainment Values/Rating
Dennis Prager General Judgment and common sense
Jack Hayford Christianity, The Spirit filled/led life
Dinesh D'Souza Historian, Christian impact in the world.
Thomas Sowell Historian, Economist
Walter E. Williams Historian, Economist
Milton Friedman Historian, Economist
Jim Cardoza American Liberty and macro-economics.
David Barton Historian, Christian impact on America
Andy Comiskey Christianity, Sexual addictions/recovery
Oswald Chambers Christianity, All aspects
Jesus Christ Historian, Healer, Life Coach, God Almighty, personal Friend
Jesus Christ didn't exactly have an 'aha' moment, but He sure does produce them in everybody He talks to. And He doesn't exactly put up a definitive web site, but you certainly can find Him by reading His love letter to us, so I linked a site that provides you the easiest access to it since it's so long and all.