13
Feb
08

The Arrogance of Error vs. Simple Truth

We live in an age where “experts” rule everything.  Those who have the proper credentials seem to think they are the almighty master at what they do.  The pride and arrogance that these people project is sickening.  They command a king’s ransom to impart their wisdom to others, whether such wisdom is right or not.  All that counts is that they receive the adoration they feel is due them on account of their profound knowledge and/or training.

The other night the high and mighty people who try to predict the weather said we would have 6 inches of snow today.  The next morning the same people said we would have 4 inches of snow.  By noon they had lowered the prognostication to 2 inches.  I think we ended up with ¼ inch of the white stuff.  The next day we were to have no snow and it snowed lightly all day.  How could these “experts” miss the forecast so badly?  It is because they put their trust in computer models and as it turned out, the models were wrong.

Contrary to what many very intelligent people say; computers cannot think for themselves.  They must be programmed to process information and lay out different possibilities and probabilities.  Still, a computer in no better than the person who designed its software and operating system.  I have attended meteorological conferences where in rare displays of honesty, the inherent problems with some forecasting models were discussed.  In other words, the poor weather people know they are must build a forecast upon an imperfect model.

Almost a year ago one of our dogs came down suddenly with a mysterious skin affliction which quickly went beyond the local vet’s ability to treat.  As in the past, I took the dog to the University of Missouri Vet Hospital expecting her to get better.  The dog was “diagnosed” with a horrible skin disease called pemphigus which entailed tons of ugly drugs to treat.  This “diagnosis” was made without even doing a biopsy or any blood tests.  The vets went on what they learned out of a book in Vet school.  They saw a picture and said, “the dog must have this.”  In other words, they “went by the book”, which would have been fine if the dog had read the book. 

Over the years, we gave the University of Missouri Vet Clinic thousands of dollars to “treat” our various dogs.  Never again, for they have changed to being only interested in the money and ceased to care about the animals brought to them.  They were 100% wrong in their “diagnosis” of the dog’s problem.  As it turns out, the dog has severe allergies which the University never bothered to test for.  This deeply hurts me, for there were some truly great vets there who cared less about financial compensation and only wanted to see a dog get better.  Obviously those vets are no longer there.

After my mom passed away almost two years ago, I allowed the financial advisor who had done very well with my mom’s investments to handle the small amount of money left to my wife and I in her will.  This person put the money into a couple of “safe” mutual funds and told us to basically forget about it and let it grow.  Periodically I would check on the investment for I wanted to be a good steward.  There was no spectacular growth over the past two years, but there was steady growth.

I actually opened the monthly statement last week instead of putting it in a drawer.  I just about had another heart attack when I read the numbers.  My little investment LOST almost 25% of its value in ONE MONTH.  I immediately called the advisor who sheepishly reminded me the entire Stock Market was down about that much in January.  I reminded him that the funds were supposed to be in balanced funds that offset each other so this wouldn’t happen.  He apologized and said that he too was surprised by what took place.

Here is a man entrusted with someone else’s money who is “surprised” that a person just lost 25% of the value of their investment.  Needless to say, once the market goes up a little; I plan on withdrawing those funds (or what is left of them) and investing them myself.  I fail to see how I could do any worse “investing” in CD’s than he did in fancy Money Market funds.  Once again, an “expert” was wrong because the data he was going on didn’t see the downturn many people did see.

I was driving home after dark a couple of weeks ago on a rural Interstate.  Suddenly the horrible shock of the multi-colored blinking lights appeared in my rearview mirror.  Puzzled, since I don’t speed, I waited for the patrol person to tell me what I had done wrong.  I was informed one of my taillights was out.  My information was entered into the state’s computer to make sure I got the problem fixed.

I took my van to two Dodge dealers who tried replacing a bulb and immediately said I had a broken wire and needed to schedule a three hour visit to their shop.  Not wanting to spend almost $300 on the problem, I kept going to smaller and smaller garages looking for someone to find a better answer.  Everyone said the same thing; it had a broken wire and would probably need three to five hours labor to find it and repair it. 

Finally I was able to take the van in to the local garage to a guy I know quite well.  Initially he thought the problem was a broken wire also.  The mechanic working on the problem kept thinking there had to be another answer.  Finally he went to the computer and found out that the 2003 van I had actually had a fuse control the tail light.  Lo and behold, he replaced the fuse and the problem went away.  Instead of paying over $300 to the so-called “experts” at the Dodge dealer, to fix a problem that didn’t exist, I paid $25 for a guy at the local shop to actually find and fix a very minor problem.

After my mom passed away, I had to take her taxes for the year to a major tax preparation agency.  A year later I get a notice that she/I owed thousands of dollars in unpaid tax.  The Preparer acknowledged their mistake, and corrected the return, but it was I who had to find and pay the money.  How did the mistake happen?  The individual who prepared the return “forgot” to enter a huge transaction that once added, resulted in a quantum leap in tax liability.  Because I failed to “purchase” insurance against such mistakes, I had to pay the whole tax bill.  I assure you H & R Block will never see my face again.

We go to a “professional” because we believe they know what they are talking about and doing.  We entrust our physical bodies to Doctors who spent years of their life attending school, but end up prescribing only drugs the drug rep in his thousand dollar suit says are the best.  Perhaps doctors operating out of brand new multi-million dollar clinics “look good”, but as for me, I will stick with a simple doc who wears jeans to work. 

I watched robot docs hasten both my mom and dad’s demise through their irresponsible administering of drugs, especially narcotics.  Instead of trying to find a means to treat underlying conditions, due to their age, they simply threw more and more high powered drugs at symptoms.  This was even done by some docs who called themselves “geriatric specialists”. 

We live in a world of con-artists.  So-called experts can’t think past the book they learned from and so-called authorities cannot think for themselves.  Many of these people base all they know and do on a computer program; even if it is flawed.  The age of an experienced person trusting his “gut” seems to have faded with last night’s sunset.  This is truly too bad, for an “experienced gut” seems to get things right far more often than the latest and greatest computer program. 

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