Most Americans Only Think They’re Doing Research
Seriously guys! We need to have a conversation about what is and what is not research. I’ve been around for almost 71 years, and I can tell you that in the past, nobody cavalierly claimed to be researchers. I mean we knew that there were people who had niche areas of scientific or scholarly interests, but we also knew that we had very little idea what that entailed. When we consulted with an expert, it was because we took it for granted that they knew more than us. We weren’t constantly challenging those who had devoted their lives to specific research, however.
Now granted, we do live in the day of information.
People like Elon Musk have been known to make outrageous statements in regards to how unnecessary a college degree has become. He claims that all the information we need on any topic can be found on the internet and nobody needs an education. That goes to show me several things. First, Musk probably isn’t as smart as he thinks he is outside his specialized areas, and second, he apparently doesn’t know the average day-to-day slacker. I also seriously doubt that he has many employees with only a high school education. Last but not least, no matter how much research Musk has done in his areas of expertise, I still wouldn’t want him to perform an operation on me simply because he insists that he’s researched my disease online.
And when we shift our attention to the average person, I really wouldn’t want them anywhere near me with a scalpel.
I mean, let’s get real, shall we? The average American can barely write a complete sentence in their native language. They spend the bulk of their time playing games online not doing RESEARCH. They don’t ever read dense material nor are they interested in increasing their vocabulary in order to know which questions to ask if indeed they did decide to do RESEARCH. And, although there’s an occasional self taught individual who has a passion for a little niche of their own, most average people think those guys are weirdos, geeks, and oddballs.
And, they are when you compare them to the rest of the class.
Yet, in spite of a massive body of evidence that most humans know next to nothing, there’s a growing number who don’t just challenge the experts, but mock them. They set up their own podcasts, YouTube channels, or instagram accounts and fill the internet with their opinions. They even get followers. People who also know nothing but are influenced by these self promoters that crowd the internet landscape like a plague of locusts. They make claims that they know things that your doctor will never tell you and if you’ll just follow them, maybe even buy their products, they’ll lead you out of the wilderness and into the light.
That’s the extent of RESEARCH the average Joe conducts.
“I done did my research and here’s what I concluded.” Those words are absolutely hilarious when you consider the source. But they’re also a clear sign that no research has been done because to reach a final conclusion is something that true researchers are very hesitant to do.
A true researcher comes to terms with the fact that the more they know the more they know they don’t know.
To some extent that’s what keeps them researching. They’re digging for evidence, running tests, doing research in multiple languages from multiple cultural perspectives for years only to submit their work to their peers in order for them to search for flaws in their research. Then they dive back in again and again. They’re obsessed for sure, but they understand what research involves.
That’s just not true of the average Joe.
If I had a dollar for every time one of my friends told me that they’d done their research on a complex topic, a topic that experts have been grappling with for decades even, I could afford to put myself through college multiple times. I know these people rather intimately, and I’m pretty sure they haven’t spent more than a bagful of hours reading online articles from a few google searches.
They’re welcome to their opinion, but based on their simple approach to problem solving, I’m not ready to retire the topic from further exploration by the experts.
Maybe we need to stop using the word research. Maybe it misleads too many people who have no understanding of what true research involves. Maybe the overuse of the word cheapens the concept of strenuous endeavors. Maybe it waters it down to the point that we can no longer tell the difference between your two pet phrases to describe your shallow almost nonexistent understanding of a complex topic and a whole vocabulary that first needed to be invented in order to explore a new area of emerging research.
Yeah baby! The non-researchers are cluttering the age of information with misinformation.
The information highway is crowded with too many dangerous drivers, confusing those with limited brain cells and nonexistent critical thinking skills into thinking that they deserve a place in the halls of academia, right up there with the those who have committed their lives to research.
The fact of the matter is the big brains that do research can never allow themselves to sit back and call it a day. That’s not the way research works. It’s the rest of us who demand regular vacation time from amateur hour.
Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can buy her books on Amazon.