The Ignorance of the Expert
George H. Morrison
Had it been others who had acted so, there would have been no occasion for surprise. The man in the street can scarcely be expected to be an authority on stones. If my watch gets out of order I should never dream of taking it to the shoemaker. If I did and if he made a mess of it, I should only have myself to blame. I naturally take it to the watchmaker who has been studying watches since first he was apprenticed and who in this particular business is an expert. The notable thing is that these builders were all experts. Stones were (if I might put it so) their bread. Daily they handled nothing else but stones. They were supposed to know everything about them. And yet these experts-these carefully trained specialists-had the witness of their folly facing them every time they passed the finished Temple. There, high up in the chief place of honor, was a stone they had condemned as useless. It was not hidden deep in the foundations. It was exalted so that every eye could see it. Someone had come along and had detected what none of the trained specialists had found-and the stone was now the headstone of the corner. Thus do we light on the important fact that specialists can be very blind occasionally. Experts who give their nights and days to things may sometimes miss the thing that matters most. All which to dull, unlearned folk is often so exceedingly astonishing that they can only say, "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes."
That ignorance of the expert is one of the common facts of life. And one says this without in the least disparaging all the magnificent service of the specialist. I think it is the Sadhu Sundar Singh1 who tells of an Indian friend of his who was an expert botanist. He could tell you all about the daffodil and give you an exact description of it. Yet when daffodils were brought him as a gift once, he entirely failed to recognize them. He had never seen them gro ...
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