1. The desire for total self-reliance leads to the belief that one can and should have a competent opinion on everything;

2. The belief that one should have a competent opinion on everything leads to a lack of nuance, since having an opinion on everything requires a massive oversimplification of every subject. An insistence on discarding nuance is therefore an insistence on oversimplification;

3. Resistance on the part of experts to the insistence on oversimplification directly challenges and denies the values of total self-reliance. Nuance, given the finitude of the human mind, makes those values impossible from a practical point of view;

4. The insistence on nuance when particularly strong is thus viewed as intensely existentially hostile. Therefore, all that is nuanced must be weasely and corrupt; it doesn’t get to the point, which is what self-reliant regular, straight-talking people do;

5. The subtleties of expertise are therefore viewed as in fact alien, authoritarian, arrogant, deceitful, and above all, malevolent. This is fertile ground for the invention of the Conspiracy Theory;

6. The intense feelings of distrust that arise from this experience of expertise, and the new conspiratorial ideas about experts which validate these feelings, even perhaps intensify the desire for total self-reliance, restarting the cycle anew from #1;

7. The conclusion: expertise must be seen as empowering for people to be converted from the sometimes paranoid, frequently hostile worldview of total self-reliance.

They must be integrated into a new community and experience an improved sense of belonging and purpose and self-determination. This community is cannot be seen as alien but complementary–replacing what was sought in what can sometimes only be called cult-like online communities.

It’s a lot to ask for, but in my opinion… behind the wild and frequently irrational forms of argument is really a radically different mentality with a radically different worldview and set of goals.

I’ll say again, none of this is evidence-based, clearly, so that nobody calls me out on this. This is just speculative introspection that I totally made it up. But I have a desire to make sense of things, to oversimplify when I don’t have the knowledge, too. So I did that here…

As an MD/PhD student, my passion is for communicating the cutting edge of medical science and battling misinformation. If this post is of use to you, please consider donating to my Patreon account. Your contribution will make a significant positive impact, and I will be greatly personally appreciative.

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