Trash About Trash: Expert Confusion

I LOVED the name of Katie’s blog post this week! She did well starting with discussion connecting the ideas of experts into the conversations we had surrounding Booth’s three different types of rhetoric.

This book is really political. That’s not a problem, but every time I open it up to do my reading I cringe a little bit.


Manjoo states: “Expertise presents another mechanism for reality to shatter: we choose our personal versions of truth by subscribing to the clutch of specialists we find agreeable and trustworthy” (107). To me, this relates back to the news websites we trust and the media we digest. Which directly relates to this graph I saw on the internet a while back (I can’t even tell you where I saw it, so it might as well be fake itself.):


Where somehow Buzzfeed can both tell me what my dream job is based on watercolor paintings is, inform me about different drinking customs around the world, and also provide me with information on the latest tragedy of my concern. I’m not saying it’s a go to news site by any means. Heck, before looking at this graph I never even thought about them presenting news at all. I thought they just provided me with weird videos and quizzes to take on Friday nights with the people I’ve known for 5+ years. But When we think about expertise we also think about the political stuff too. Everything left to right. Everything good to poor quality. Trash and not trash.

“We choose our personal versions of truth by subscribing to the clutch of specialists we find agreeable and trustworthy”

This is more important than ever when I wake up this morning with my Facebook friends (who are as liberal if not more than I am) talking about the importance of taking Trump’s “Media Accountability Survey” which was sent to what I can figure to be… only Trump supporters. But sending things strictly to those who support you has yet to trick the internet. Somehow the link and the image below still ended up in the hands of my political activist pals.

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And, as with many things, my friend explained the importance of participating in these kinds of things (where the wording is discomforting and the psychologists wouldn’t be able to use it in their real research).

Love Trump? Hate Trump? I don’t have the energy to fight you right now. Rather, these are the experiences I’m having, and I’m talking about them. When I was in theater we used to talk about how acting on a stage wasn’t lying. It couldn’t be based off of lies. Acting on a stage was telling the truth, so in areas where truth and lies combine and blur, it’s really important for us to think about WHO is feeding them to us.

I only feel vaguely bad about making all of my recent posts POLITICAL, but this text keeps bringing up politics, which makes it WAY too easy to relate it to current events. Something the rest of my group mates seem to be doing a reasonable job avoiding.

But somehow, within this easy access to knowledge we find it all too simple to be lost and caught up in moments where we are uncertain about the expertise of anyone. Manjoo explains this by stating: “Today, experts come at us from all directions, in every medium, through every niche. But their quality–their education, their experience, their reputation, their ideological and financial allegiances–is growing ever more difficult to ascertain” (108). This is why there’s such a big push for “credible sources” when you’re doing research. Are you using a “scholarly journal” or is it Wikipedia? It’s why there are annotated bibliography assignments, because often times they try to force you to think about the sources you’re using in academia.

This last week in The Exponent (an article I can’t quite find online, but will link or at least give the title of once I get back to a hard copy of the newspaper) talked about professors sharing their political opinions in classes and how that could or could not cause issue surrounding the class because professors are seen as an authority figure, and we are in a current cultural and political climate that is full of emotions (to say the least). And it’s interesting to think in the aspect of how academic authority could play into what different ideas we value in a liberal education system and how we then see experts as being (back into us trusting peer review journals over Wikis for me, I think).

So I took A LOT OF THINGS out of context for this blog post and went pretty big with it. Plus I’m sure it’s probably a little long too? Don’t know! But what I do know is that it talked about historical polling and polling accounts and how that’s something that certainly continues to be important today.

I’d like to add that I didn’t see my classmate’s posts until after posting because they weren’t in “Response 6” until I looked at the posts as a whole, and I think the visuals they’ve put in there are super awesome and discuss the same sorts of things.Casey’s “Feature image” talks about stuff that’s also really important to be aware of when consuming information.


2 thoughts on “Trash About Trash: Expert Confusion

  1. The text is super political, and as much as I hate it because the arguments quickly turn nasty, these are in fact the best examples of what we have when it comes to demonstrating the author’s ideas. And I do find it funny that Buzzfeed was included on that chart at all, the same as you, I used it for obscure time passing quizzes that obviously have no correlation between inputs and outputs. I think what would also be interesting to add to this graph would be the demographics that are writing for each. Buzzfeed is definitely a younger crowd, so if its of lower quality and far more left, that’s not surprisings. If anything, maybe that would confirm what kind of demographics fit our stereotypes of each category. Even more so it may get to the heart of not only listening to authors who think like us, but maybe authors who look like us or have similar backgrounds. Regardless of how we divide it up, I’ve got to agree with you in respect to what makes an expert and the trash that they produce.


  2. I am not interested in politics, so don’t know much about American politics. I have few American friends on Facebook and that include both republican and democratic party supporters. Yes, I agree media is biased. One of my friend who is Trump supporter, always shared on Facebook only that news that are in favor of Trump and most of the time come from same news channel. Similarly, the friends who are not in accord with Trump administration, only share news that are criticizing the trump administration and they come from a different new channel. All news channels have their experts, and they know what is true or what is false, but share only those what they want. And this because you want only selected information, you can’t consume the information that is challenging your core belief.


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