One of the things about that book, Authority, is that makes the case, to me at least, that people are basically lying, or if not lying, misrepresenting themselves as experts, as people worthy of attention. But I’m coming to realize that that’s okay; it’s nearly impossible to fight against anyhow. Not everyone who shares something has to be an expert in their field. Not everyone who writes a tutorial for something has to do it as a retrospective; it’s much easier to write a tutorial while working on the very thing the tutorial is about as a kind of more formalized note-taking that’s just shared with a bit of narrative framing. That’s not bad.
But coming from academia, and the particular aggressive and ultimately bad argumentative style that was inculcated in me at Indiana University’s cognitive science program, I have the instinct to say with chest forward, “Who are you to make such proclamations?” But who am I to make such proclamations? If someone wants to talk about learning, I can say “what you are saying is not backed up by the literature.” I can even appeal to authority a little bit and just say “no, that’s wrong, it’s a lot of effort for me to go through and get citations for you but I’m saying as someone who has been in graduate school in learning science for eight years that you are wrong.”
I worry about the very authority of the source, now, after reading that book. I worry the blog post I’m reading was written by someone who doesn’t understand the best way of teaching what they’re teaching, who doesn’t have a sense of the bigger picture, who isn’t intentionally introducing concepts here and holding them back there. I worry about this doubly when I read that the blog post’s author has a book on the subject.
But that’s okay. We’re all grasping at shadows in a dark room.