Experts

Leave It to the Experts, or, Whaddya Mean She's Having a Baby?

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Whoah
chizoo / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Recently, in a hospital to remain nameless, a petite woman walked into the emergency room complaining of abdominal pain. She was checked in with the usual round of questioning, scrutiny, and paperwork. Then she cooled her heels in the waiting room for two hours before being called back by a nurse. The ER doc poked and prodded her, performing an abdominal exam without finding a cause for her complaint. The woman was then sent with a nurse to gather a urine sample, That's when her water broke and the baby causing the "abdominal pain" began to emerge into a somewhat unprepared world.

That's right—not only did mom not know she was pregnant, but somehow a physician, nurses, and other hospital staff failed to figure it out after an exam.

We're often told that people are too stupid to make their own decisions, and so difficult subjects that might tax our tiny little minds should be left to the experts. President Obama infamously justified his fib about Americans getting to keep their health coverage by smugly commenting, "a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good." We should suck it up over our cancellation letters and go buy the higher-priced insurance that he and his buddies approved because they know better than us what we need.

And it's true that the general population can often seem to be running a bit shy of brain cells and competence. But so do experts. In that unnamed emergency room, mom may rate a few raised eyebrows over a certain lack of body awareness, but what about those well-trained and licensed medical experts who found themselves stumped by the whole abdominal discomfort=labor pains equation?

And when individuals flaunt their stupid for the world to see, the blast radius of their stupid is usually confined within certain boundaries. Experts, given a chance to show their stuff, wield Stupid of Mass Destruction.

Individuals may have "thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good," but only experts, authorized to inflict their wisdom on the unwashed masses, could give us tidal waves of health insurance cancellation letters, a government-built marketplace that doesn't work, unless it's funneling people into the wrong coverage, losing their records, and serving up the data it doesn't scramble to hackers.

And that's just the delivery system for health coverage with newly jacked up prices, a shortage of doctors, and an assortment of other problems that make it a train wreck.

This is just one area of public policy inflicted on us by experts. If you don't give a damn about Obamacare, substitute drug prohibition, gun control, federal spending, or any of a variety of arenas in which we've told us that our own decision-making isn't good enough, so we'll have to leave it to the experts. Sure, any one of us might experience a surfeit of stupid when it comes to guns, dope, and cash, but only experts empowered by hubris and law could double-down on such decisions and inflict them on everybody.

Yes, experts generally are better-informed than the rest of us in their chosen specialties. But that doesn't mean they're immune to jaw-dropping fumbles—or that we should empower them to make their mistakes into our problems.

We make enough errors on our own; we don't need more imposed on us from above.

NEXT: Republican House Members Call for Criminal Inquiry Into James Clapper Over Lying to Congress

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  1. Sure, any one of us might experience a surfeit of stupid when it comes to guns, dope, and cash, but only experts empowered by hubris and law could double-down on such decisions and inflict them on everybody.

    2Chili — didn’t you say the other day that you were mild-mannered and soft-spoken in print?

    I can only imagine the volcanic temper you must have when dealing with petty bureaucrats and cops in person.

    (Not criticizing, BTW, just commenting — this article is awesome!)

  2. Preach it, 2 Chilly.

  3. The “I didn’t know I was pregnant” stories always strike me as unbelievable.

    1. Why? Even the doctors and nurses here didn’t know.

      1. Like nipplemancer below I find it baffling. Pregnancy is a pretty major event for your body to deal with.

    2. Have you seen what passes for sex education these days?

      “You told me not to sleep with my boyfriend or I would get pregnant and go to hell, so I made real, real sure we never dozed off.”

  4. Time for Thomas Sowell.

    People who are very aware that they have more knowledge than the average person are often very unaware that they do not have one-tenth of the knowledge of all of the average persons put together. In this situation, for the intelligentsia to impose their notions on ordinary people is essentially to impose ignorance on knowledge.

    1. Psh. What does he know? Is he some kind of expert or something?

  5. Too bad they didn’t tell her they were full, and send her around back to the parking garage to have the kid.

    “It’s the feel-good story of the year, I tell ya. They’ll eat it up at the box office! We’ll get Adam Sandler to play the baby! And the Robinsons as the Three Wise Men.”

  6. ‘President Obama infamously justified his fib about Americans getting to keep their health coverage by smugly commenting, “a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good.” We should suck it up over our cancellation letters and go buy the higher-priced insurance that he and his buddies approved because they know better than us what we need.’

    But Obama was lying again when he said our insurance was “not do good.”

    Policies were cancelled because they were priced too low to bear the cross-subsidization mandated by O’care.

  7. The wife is preggo with kid #2 right now. I honestly don’t understand how a woman could be pregnant and not know it. These stories always baffle me.

    1. She was probably significantly fatter than the average woman. Think “Jezebelle”.

      1. Recently, in a hospital to remain nameless, a petite woman walked into the emergency room complaining of abdominal pain.

        1. Still, the question remains: American petite or rest-of-the-world* petite?

          * The Holy Shit! obesity of the denizens of the Arab Gulf duly noted.

        2. My (93 year old) mother is “petite”. She’s perhaps 4 foot 11 and weighs about 160. Petite, in female clothing parlance, just means “short”, not “tiny”.

          CB

          1. Sure, but 2Chili isn’t female, and he’s the guy who wrote the description.

        3. “Short” and “petite” have sadly become interchangeable in the last decade.

      2. This actually happened to a fat woman at church when I was a kid.

        She came to church with a baby one day, and all the women started gossiping about why they weren’t invited to the shower.

        Turned out no one had. She admitted she didn’t know she was pregnant and the doctor didn’t either until he saw a foot hanging…

        Emergency medical people do have to depend on the information they get from the patient. Triaging someone who complains of lower abdomen pain so they’re sitting in the ER for two hours isn’t necessarily unreasonable either.

        1. I was taught in my very first EMT class (1983) that a woman of childbearing age presenting with abdominal pain was pregnant and/or in labor until proven otherwise. Regardless of presenting history.

    2. I can’t imagine being so disconnected from my body to not know I was pregnant. The never ending nausea, the exhaustion, the unique feeling of having something inside you fucking kicking you, the weight gain all concentrated in your stomach making it heavy and hard, and the fucking labor pains should be more than enough for any sane woman to realize you are pregnant.

  8. “Yes, experts generally are better-informed than the rest of us in their chosen specialties. But that doesn’t mean they’re immune to jaw-dropping fumbles?or that we should empower them to make their mistakes into our problems.”

    Experts are not better-informed than the rest of us–not on the most important, qualitative aspects of these issues.

    For instance, if the question is whether I would prefer to live in a freer society with gun ownership–for qualitative reasons–then expertise adds nothing.

    You can say they might add something to the quantitative side of the discussion about what the tradeoffs are, but we all have a PhD about our own qualitative preferences. No other expert even comes close.

    And even on the quantitative side, one of the reasons so few people pay attention to the experts on any given issue is because the experts aren’t addressing the aspects of the issue that matter to most people.

    How many terrorists can we catch by ignoring the Fourth Amendment and letting the NSA have its way with us? I don’t know, and I don’t care. Ask me how many more 9/11s we’d have to suffer before I was willing to let go of the Fourth Amendment, and I’ll admit that I’m not sure. It’s probably somewhere north of ten 9/11s.

    1. Yeah, I feel the same way about healthcare, too. How many people would go without healthcare sans ObamaCare?

      There could be more people going without because of ObamaCare, for all I know, but that’s beside the point for me, anyway. For qualitative reasons, I’d rather live in a freer society where people get to make their own choices.

      And why would any expert’s opinion on the qualitative aspects of ObamaCare be any more important than mine?

      1. How many people would go without healthcare sans ObamaCare?

        The vast majority would certainly go without maternity care.

        1. I’d question that assertion, but then, even if it’s true, I’d rather live in a freer society than one where more women get maternity care.

          People act like our qualitative preferences should rationally collapse in the face of studies or science, but if anything, it’s the opposite.

          Studies may only be important insofar as they inform our qualitative preferences.

          A study on the effects of global warming on polar bears only matters if you care more about polar bears than you do about the cost for utilities in the northeast, the unemployment rate in coal mining states, etc.

          I wrote up in that post that, “I don’t know, and I don’t care”, but a lot of times the truth is that we don’t know because we don’t care; i.e., our qualitative preferences are such that we never bother to find out.

          That sort of ignorance is not irrational.

          1. Not just that – but you are correct in the experts may know more about that which they are experts at – but knowing gun/crime stats doesn’t mean one also knows who to “fix” it – nor does knowing all of that information mean the expert cannot misdiagnose risk.

            Think about those LEOs who spent a long career dealing with car wrecks – they likely drive differently due to that.

            Should we all drive the same? Or could it be that their “expertise” has in fact made them fear something more than they should?

            How about IT people and they way they handle security on home networks versus others?

            Sure they know better – but should they mandate for the rest of this security 98% (including themselves) will never need?

            Or maybe we follow the views of Public defenders or ex-LEO in high crime areas on personal security?

            Etc/etc/etc as I’m sure many here can think of many other like analogies – the point though summed is that sometimes a person’s expertise makes them focus narrowly on specific things that the average person really shouldn’t be focused on.

            Even though logic says that like everything else in life – too much reliance on anything, including experts will in fact bring large, obvious negatives – it’s the new world.

            Land of the free in 2013 – we’re so much smarter than prior generations that normal logic is no longer required for decisions – so now Top Men? can only ever be a positive.

    2. Somewhere north of a thousand 9/11. The government is doing exactly what the terrorists want them to do. To us.

  9. “Stupid of Mass Destruction”

    ^Priceless.

  10. With both my kids, my wife was pregnant 3 or months before the doctors would believe her when she told them she was pregnant starting at 6 weeks.

    1. Didn’t the positive home pregnancy test give it away?

  11. Apparently Facebook is listing reason.com as a malicious website when linking to this story.

    1. Pretty much anything that isn’t extolling the virtues of animal rescue, spreading questionably true stories about sweet old people and their wisdom or cat memes is considered malicious on FB.

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