A couple of years back a wall certificate emblazoned with a slogan became the trendy gift doing the Christmas rounds among the medical fraternity.
If you’ve got a particularly waggish GP, you might even have spotted said slogan adorning their waiting room wall. It reads: “Please Do Not Confuse Your Google Search With My Medical Degree.”
The point, drolly made, is that doctors are the experts, and that self-diagnosis predicated on the dubious expertise of “Dr Google” is not only wildly unreliable but potentially quite dangerous to boot.
But the slogan itself is a symptom of the online age, wherein the Great Unwashed (and, more pertinently, the Great Untrained) feel empowered by the sheer magnitude of information — or purported information — at their fingertips.
Knowledge, after all, is power, and there is now more knowledge than ever before available to more people than ever before. But if knowledge is power, wisdom is attaining the expertise to use that knowledge judiciously – not merely to cherry-pick solutions and syllogisms from the mass of information churning in the internet ocean.
If even doctors are finding themselves increasingly told how to do their jobs by armchair experts these days, it is but a minor exponent of a modern malaise – the anti-expert revolt.
The zeitgeist was captured beautifully by a cartoon in The New Yorker just over a year ago, in which a disgruntled airline passenger riles up his fellow travellers with an eerily familiar call to arms: “These smug pilots have lost touch with regular passengers like us. Who thinks I should fly the plane?”
It’s a brilliant evocation, because of the inherent silliness of the notion that a majority of passengers would prefer to entrust their lives to an opinionated novice than a trained professional. But, of course, that’s increasingly the story of our political life.
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Trump’s “Drain The Swamp” refrain captured the essence of the movement — a broad dissatisfaction, even anger, with the ruling elite.
Empowered by a mass of information, people increasingly resent being told what to do, and even what to think, by career politicians who have increasingly lost touch with the lives of their constituents.
The sentiment is so palpable that even a billionaire property developer was able to harness it to somehow portray himself as the voice of America’s disaffected lower middle class.
His enduring shtick is to berate the pillars of the liberal establishment. It is, in effect, the very thing proponents of the new Right despise the most – virtue signalling. His public attacks on ethnic minorities, on women, on Democrats and – of course – on the media is a thinly coded dog whistle to those who feel diminished, or ostracised, or aggrieved, by the liberal elite and its attendant political correctness.
And it’s catching.
The president’s constant media pejorative — Fake News — is so prevalent it was Macquarie Dictionary’s Word of the Year last year, and a more deserving choice than this year’s hipper yet more obscure “milkshake duck”. It is, after all, a phrase that has entered the lexicon (one fears, permanently) and moreover crossed the political divide, with members of the left enthusiastically embracing the Trump lingo. It’s become a catch-all for any news story, even those that are sourced, verified and attributed, with which the reader disagrees.
Because readers are sick of being dictated to by these smug “expert” journalists.
Nick Xenophon hates being compared to Donald Trump.
Before the last federal election, he took grave offence to then-Liberal MP Jamie Briggs arguing there were “uncanny” similarities between the two “anti-politicians”.
“Both are populists who play on fear claiming to be ‘anti-politicians’, whereas the truth is that both have been involved in politics nearly all their adult lives,” Briggs told The Australian.
Xenophon has described the comparison variously as “hysterical”, “really rough” and “quite reckless”.
“It would be funny if what was behind it wasn’t so offensive,” he told News Corp in 2016.
“I find Trump’s views on migration, on Muslims, on war veterans, quite repugnant.”
He got the last laugh in that particular exchange when Briggs lost his previously safe seat to NXT’s Rebekha Sharkie.
But the former member for Mayo was onto something …
Read the rest at InDaily