Do you live your life by consensus? Forget experts; there’s another way to figure out what’s going on in our lives and the world. We need only consensus; the agreement of at least one other individual to support our point of view. I find myself operating by consensus all too often:
“Rachel, this is Suzanne. I’ve got this strange rash on my left arm. It’s kind of like little pink goose bumps. What do you think?”
“Sounds like contact dermatitis. Try some butter.” (Of course Rachel doesn’t really know what contact dermatitis is; she heard this once at the pediatrician’s office where she took her son several years ago for a rash, but this was as good a time as any to show off her incredible memory. As for the butter, her mom used it for skin irritations (or was that burns?) so why not?)
“Great; I’ll do that.”
Unfortunately, consensus is often the preferred method for any number of life decisions/guidance. Once we have agreement, our quest for a definitive answer is over, however ill-informed both parties may be. “Hey Lonnie, who sang “That Crazy Little Thing Called Love”? “ “That was Prince.” “Oh, yeah. Now, I remember.” (Forget that it was Queen; they’re both royalty, aren’t they?)
I’ve used consensus for everything from medical diagnoses to geography/world politics, just about any area where a right answer does exist (in theory). I find it very comforting, solving my quest for guidance and knowledge from the comfort of my home, not to mention the security of agreement with like-minded friends.
What do you think? I agree; we all do this. I think it’s just a part of our flawed human logic circuits. Next time you find yourself seeking medical advice or an answer from a friend, ask them, “How do you know?” Chances are, like you, they have no idea. Unless the response is, “We learned this in my third year at medical school,” maybe it might be best to seek a third opinion from someone who actually did.