But it is. At least functionally in many cases. In the case of academia, think about what expertise is. It’s paying a significant opportunity cost to often specialize in a single field. People who become experts in certain fields forgo other experiences and understandings. That’s just a function of good old-fashioned linear time and how humans experience it as a finite resource. So if a bunch of physicists are, say, experiencing funding issues they’ll be the first and the most knowledgeable people to raise the alarm. The reality is that basically no one outside that community exists who cares enough to do the homework. Even administrators and “non-physicists” within the group of people who understand funding issues for physics, are the same people who once were physicists, and they will draw upon the knowledge of what physicists need to make informed opinions. The world is incredibly incestuous and interconnected, there’s no such thing as a detached unbiased person.
You can extend this to a lot of other concerns. There are traffic safety experts who are capable of having a lot of facts at their disposal, but might still see cycling as “recreational” because they’ve never been in a position to commute by bicycle. I can easily see where a cyclist’s perspective isn’t just something he should ignore in the interests of some external, and ultimately nebulous, standard of “balance” or “impartiality.” Oftentimes what people are saying when they say, “as an X” is that they’ve had firsthand experience with the subject, and to please take into account that they might not be talking out of their ass.
You, as a free-thinking reasonably intelligent person, can calibrate that according to common sense. “As a mother” means little to me in certain contexts, because lots of people are mothers, and I can easily see lots of other mothers disagreeing in the same context. “As a mother, I’m concerned about rainbows appearing in sprays of sunlit water” means precisely that. They have children and are worried. Does it mean that I need to be worried? Of course not. “As a mother, I’m telling you it’s crazy how much diapers cost.” That’s a statement where I can place and understand the perspective. It carries weight. That’s because of instead of applying a simplistic rule that says anytime someone says, “As an X” I ignore them, I think about what that means on a case by case basis.
I don’t ignore those that preface their statements with “as an X”, but I do carefully consider whether or not their view is potentially coloured by self-interest. The physicists who are aware of their own funding difficulty are just one input to science funding debates and decision making process. It might be reasonably expected that they would favour an outcome where their research was funded at the expense of someone else’s, in-part because it was “their research” and important to them. The mother who asserts that diapers are overpriced is not the sole source of truth/information in that assertion. She may be just an input to the larger debate of how much, we as a society, intervene in the economics of child-rearing. She’s way more affected than I am. Should that add or subtract weight from her view?
I’m a commuting cyclist and add my voice to the debate on road safety and cycling facilities through our local advocacy group. I’m conflicted. No question. I hate it, but try to understand, when others see our concerns (that motorists keep running us down) as trivial and as mostly our own fault; that it’s a result of our “lifestyle choices”.
Sidebar. There was a story round these parts where one group of people were upset that another group of people had shot all the moose, such that there were no more moose left for them to shoot. “As a moose non-hunter” my view that no-one should shoot the moose at all may well be met with “Why should we listen to you? You don’t even shoot moose”.
This is just brilliant. Can somebody send a copy of this to Hillary’s debate coaches? Please?
I was going to bring that here to draw attention to it, too!
@Daedalus delivers a masterful shutdown here:
You know, I initially felt really bad about that one, when I re-read it immediately after I posted it, because of how much I used the word “we.”
I felt like I was imposing my views on others who had not chosen me to speak for them.
I’m glad to see that, rather than being offended by my presumption, people are chiming in that this is, indeed, a good summary of how they think about consent.
I’ll still try to speak more for myself in the future, but it makes me feel much better to know that I wasn’t quite as presumptuous as I thought I might have been.
Just read it, that is just wonderful and good written. A story lot’s and lot’s of people should read. Also @ethicalcannibal, thanks.
THIS! So many of us have tried to talk about this concept but this is so well-thought out, so beautifully articulated… it needs ALL the likes, IMHO.
While a picture can say a thousand words, this particular one says two, maybe three, to would-be bike thieves. And what words they are.
I need some help applying the appropriate number of likes to this post:
ETA: Oh and this one: