What do you call it when the people who are supposed to save the day, the so-called “experts,” fail to perform when the chips are down? There has got to be a terminology for that. For now, I’m going to go with the phrase “expert failure” or EF.
Example: “Yup. Things certainly went to shit. They EF’d up.”
In the excellent book Jurassic Park the character Ian Malcolm, a mathematician specializing in “chaos theory,” correctly predicts the failed hubris of the undertaking. (Also in the book the character John Hammond, the visionary, is ironically eaten by his creations. That tasty tidbit didn’t make it into the movie.) The genius of Michael Crichton’s book has nothing to do with dinosaurs. As Wikipedia puts it, the story is a “metaphor of collapse.”
Expert failure works like this:
- Only we are brilliant enough to design and breed dinosaurs. You are not brilliant by a long shot. Oops. The dinosaurs got out. Bad shit happens. Our bad.
- A virus enters the country. The hospitals and specialists we depend on for our very lives fail to follow basic protocols. (In unrelated news, studies have shown that 10 to 80 percent of ICU doctors fail to engage in sanitary hand washing as directed. Because, of course, they know better.)
- A politician says, “Doing ABC will lead to XYZ.” When that doesn’t happen, he adds, “Obviously we need a lot more of ABC. We have to give my policies a chance to work.”
- Your financial consultant advises you to invest heavily in Guru Of Negativity (ticker: GON) holdings and you lose your shirt.
- A baseball teams spends $50 million on a single player (cutting other players from the team to make this possible). Later, in game seven of the World Series, bottom of ninth, two outs, full count, bases loaded, trailing by one run the fellow whiffs flailingly at three straight pitches in the dirt and strikes out.
That last example is my personal favorite because I could have easily matched that performance for at least half price. Show me the money!
What else have experts gotten wrong? FEMA? Vietnam? The financial crisis? Mortgage-backed securities? Bridges? Stampedes at religious gatherings? Platforms at state fairs? Fires in disco clubs? Interfering in the civil wars of other countries?
The list is long and distinguished.
So now we look to experts to clean up the messes that were created by the same and/or previous experts. I’m no expert but I say that sucks. When you’re stuck on your the tippy-top of your roof and the water is lapping at your toes, just remember this: There is no expert correction fairy who will swoop in and save your bacon.
Ultimately, no matter what the experts would like you to believe, you’re on your own.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to change into my baseball uniform. You can depend on me.
Things fall apart. The center does not hold. –Yeats