Author Topic: Knock down the Jericho Walls barring Non-Experts.  (Read 2029 times)

Offline AvidandManic

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Knock down the Jericho Walls barring Non-Experts.
« on: February 06, 2019, 11:41:37 PM »
I have written Fiction and Non fiction and poetry.

I want to address Non Fiction.

I do not want to seem arrogant or full of myself, but I have many ideas regarding political, social, theological and other issues.  I have about 700 pages of essays dealing with these topics.

I have had four or five essays published. With the exception of one essay, published many eons ago, my stuff has not found  homes in terribly prestigious journals.

People have said to me that I find it hard to get my stuff published because I do not have EXPERT CREDENTIALS.   I have a law degree, from NYU, but I do not have a doctorate from political science which supposedly certifies that I am capable of making political points.  Nor do I have any other academic degrees.  Just a BA and then the JD from law school.

I believe that experts are actually less inclined than the ordinary person to formulate perceptive and accurate ideas about the material in their area of expertise:

1)  After spending time, money and effort in obtaining a degree in a certain specialty, an expert will be afraid to consider new ideas which might challenge the basis for his status as an expert, his years of education and his sometimes haughty, magisterial income.


a)  The Surgeons of Paris in the 19th century were loathe to consider the germ theory of disease, promulgated by that "country bumpkin," Louis Pasteur, because to do so would have been to admit that they were killing their patients because they did not sterilize their equipment, thereby spreading germs.

b)  The Generals of France in the 1930's, fully expecting that the next war would be fought like the first World War, built an enormous static defensive line, the Maginot line.  And the Germans defeated France in a month by simply going around that line 

c) In the  1960's, the men formulating US military and foreign policy were praised as "The Best and the Brightest."  And they gave us the debacle of Vietnam.

d) Today more people than ever see shrinks and take pills for their emotional maladies.  And the suicide rate has been rising for 20 years.

e) William Buckley said that he would rather be governed by the first 200 names in the Boston Telephone Book than the faculty of Harvard University.

F) For years Freudian psychoanalysts held that homosexuality was invariably rank pathology.  Accordingly, for years they disregarded or denied evidence which proved otherwise. 

G) In "Breaking Ranks" Norman Podhoretz said that political experts underestimated the potential of Gene Mc Carthy, Robert Kennedy and George Mc Govern because they only knew political affairs and did not understand that phenomena extraneous to politics could shape politics.  He said that stuff such as Rock music and other cultural changes -- which the editorial boards of the grey lady (The NY Times) and the Washington Post were oblivious to -- were giving anti Vietnam war candidates a special boost.   

2)   Consider this basic  point from the rules of Logic laid down by Aristotle:

He said that "Argumentum ad Hominum" was one of the "informal logical fallacies."

This is a form of logic gone awry in which we discredit an idea by stating that various stupid or unsavory people were associated with the idea.

Therefore, a non expert's ideas should not be summarily dismissed because he is not an expert.  An idea's validity can only be properly assessed by examining the idea itself and by excluding from consideration all peripheral and prejudicial matters. 

Similarly, an expert's ideas do not necessarily have merit because of his expert status.   

In any event, I would love to know if anyone has any ideas as to how I can deal with, and hopefully defeat, the barrier on non experts.

Sorry for writing such a long note.  It's simply that this issue gets me really hot and bothered 

Offline kaperton

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Re: Knock down the Jericho Walls barring Non-Experts.
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2019, 08:09:56 AM »
I agree with you that sometimes the "experts" are sometimes too ingrained in the ways of thinking of their group that they can't see new ideas, or lose perspective. However, most people have opinions on social and political issues, but I don't want to read about the random musings of my annoying coworker or my opinionated neighbor. Something has to give someone's ideas legitimacy, and usually that's the fact that they have some knowledge or insider information that the rest of us don't.

Offline aao_1989

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Re: Knock down the Jericho Walls barring Non-Experts.
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2019, 09:05:04 AM »
It might be interesting to pursue a PhD regarding one of these ideas. Then you'd be simultaneously working on research and publishing regarding one of your ideas, and achieving the credentials that might make others more interested in your work.

Offline koji

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Re: Knock down the Jericho Walls barring Non-Experts.
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2019, 10:10:30 AM »
The thing about the internet is it opened up a ton of possibilities for "non-experts" to share their thoughts and opinions.

If you are an expert, if you've been "vetted" then you get to go to the head of the class (IE get pubbed in journals with cred). Without it, you need to work your way up from the bottom.

Create a blog, get a following. Interact with other people producing minor articles in your areas of interest. Create a name for yourself. Then you will eventually get into the big journals.

The thing is, no one is owed a platform. It's up to you to build it or not.

Offline Waterfall

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Re: Knock down the Jericho Walls barring Non-Experts.
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2019, 09:58:05 PM »
Part of the question is what you want to publish, and where. I've found peer-reviewed academic journals to be surprisingly open environments for publishing, because of the blind review process. The reviewers don't know anything about you; they don't get a cover letter, they don't get a CV, they just get your text. And even when they decline, they usually give pretty detailed feedback about what they see as shortcomings. The problem is that not very many people read those journals, certainly not civilians.

If you want to be a pundit, you can start with a small regional newspaper or an alternative weekly. But the demands there are different. Your job there is to be a reliable and interesting voice, to be a person readers want to be able to come back to. I got started as an architecture critic for a weekly newspaper thirty years ago, when I was still an undergraduate student in architecture.

If you want to publish a book, you have to convince the editor that a) it's a conversation lots of people are having, b) that you bring something new to it, and c) that you've done the work with enough rigor to be defensible. You may go through a peer review process there, too.

The upshot, at least for me, is that the nonfiction barriers to "non experts" are relatively knowable and can be overcome. That's not to say that it's easy or fast. But at least it's comprehensible.