A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

What do the experts know?

Marshall McLuhan (January 28, 1966, age 54). They know too much.

Did you hear the story of the soft-hearted brain surgeon who when a patient told him he couldn’t afford surgery offered the retouch his x-rays for free.  Experts never cease to amaze me.  Tom Paine said that it’s not what we don’t know that hurts us but what we know that isn’t true.  Experts are masters of this, of what they know that assures them that new ideas must be false.  Whatever you say, they rest easy, knowing it can’t be true.

Me (April,  2010, age 57).  Perhaps they do.

Marshall McLuhan’s idea is that the experts starting point to any idea is that it must be wrong.  That is that there is nothing new under the sun.  No matter what your idea is it must have already been tried.  And therefore it must be wrong because if it wasn’t it would have been shown to be right, and we would know it already.  What this means is that not being an expert gives you an advantage.

What is your advantage?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 334.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, April 8th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Education, Vol. 1 No Comments

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