Friday, July 08, 2005

Beware of Experts

I don't know about you, but my mind craves simple explanations for what's going on. A universal theory of everything would be handy. The only people I've met who think they've found something like this are so narrowly focused that they've shut out the complexity that goes with real life. The rest of us have to admit that we're never going to figure it all out.

Over lunch today at Christopher's Nothing Fancy Cafe, a charming Cal-Mex joint built into one end of what was once a carwash, Uta and I talked about the tunnel vision of specialists. Take medicine. No matter what ails you, surgeons want to cut. Take a hang nail to an allergist, and she will look for pollen. Give a kid a hammer and every problem looks like a nail. We're all specialists in our own way. You, the surgeons, the allergists, the physicists, the tailors, the soldiers, me: we all see a narrow slice of the world through our particular lenses and generalize that we've seen all of reality. Our slice of the worldview is so narrow, we may convince ourselves that we've come up with the theory of everything.

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