Someone with whom was having a spirited debate online asked me – in what I detected was a snarky tone – if I was an authority. I answered simply no. In the Miriam Websters online dictionary, the relevant definition here would be: an individual cited or appealed to as an expert e.g. The prosecutor called the psychiatrist as an authority.
Why would anyone listen to me, or anyone else for that matter? I am not an authority. Most of us are authorities in one and only one area: our own lives. Some (a very small minority) have studied and gathered experience and advanced degrees (typically doctorate degrees) enough to be considered experts. I am not an expert and in all my years as a college professor, I never allowed my students to refer to me as Dr. Shaul even though I have a doctorate. The biggest reason was that I never wanted anyone to believe anything I said just because I said it. I wanted them to believe it because either 1) it seemed intuitive true (it resonated with their reasonable mind, 2) it was logically internally and externally consistent (see a full explanation on my blog under Critical Thinking/Truth and Systems of Thought) which in short mean they logically fit together or they fit with their observations. or 3) someone besides me who was a bona fide authority had made the claim.
I told them that I did not operate on the assumption that I was smarter than they. I assumed I had more knowledge tucked away in my brain because I had lived longer and studied more; but I also told them there there were areas in life where they likely knew more that I and there were areas in life I likely I knew more than they. The other advantage I might have is that I had made it a lifelong goal to learn how to think carefully… not just to read and study a lot, but to develop critical thinking and assessment skills. They, however, could do the same and likely surpass me someday.
So, in short, I am not an authority in anything except my own life. I speak from what I have learned and assesses to be true. Hopefully, in whatever I say, upon request, I can point you to solid authorities on the matter.
I encourage you to learn to think critically. I sincerely hope that you pick up the skills of assessment of arguments, data, and sources. One of my favorite moments teaching was when a student would point out that I was wrong and show me why. THAT meant they were picking up what I was laying down.
The same is true for what I post online. I am not an authority… I am just a guy who has studied and thought a lot about a lot of things and have read many good authorities to shape my beliefs.
I am, after all, just a kid from Millard, and those who knew me back then wouldn’t listen to me now any more than they would a bullfrog.
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For His Glory,