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When You Shouldn't Listen to Experts

When You Shouldn't Listen to Experts

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Published by Robert Pagliarini

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Published by: Robert Pagliarini on Mar 26, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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When You Shouldn’t Listen toExperts: 5 Must Ask Questions
Robert Pagliarini –Columnist for CBS MoneyWatch
Experts can be dangerous.I'm the number one proponent of using the other 8 hours to learn fromothers, grow, and advance, butwhenever you find yourself seekinginformation, guidance, or answersfrom an authority figure such as anexpert or doctor, watch out! You just might save your life.Last week
James Arthur Ray
, a self-help motivational speaker,was arrested on three counts of manslaughter. He had a strongand passionate following, and for the three who died and the 18others who were treated at hospitals, they followed him too far.James held a week-long spiritual retreat in Arizona where themembers participated in a 36-hour fast, sleep deprivation, and adeadly sauna-like ceremony where 50+ participants enduredsweltering heat for 2 ½ hours.As far as I know, participants were free to leave at any time. Thedoors weren't locked and there were no burly guards blocking theexit. So why didn't they? They followed an authority figure. Theyhung up their judgment and ability to think for themselves at thedoor. They looked to the leader -- the expert to whom some paid$9,000 for the event -- to tell them what to do. Even after feelingill, vomiting, and collapsing, participants chose to stay. Of course,you would have run for the door . . . or would you?Ever since the holocaust, psychologists have been intrigued by ourobedience to authority figures. In one of the most infamousexperiments, a completely demented and absolutely brilliant
Stanley Milgram
tested participants' willingness to obey anauthority figure who told them to administer dangerous shocks toanother subject. Shockingly, 65% of the participants administeredthe highest voltage -- even after the subject complained abouthaving a heart condition!
It's amazing what we'll do when a stern guy in a lab coat tells usto, but what does this have to do with you? Everything. Thoughtleaders and experts can inspire and provide solutions, but if youfollow them blindly, you can do yourself harm. Similar to the workI've done on the
, here are a few questions on how to get the mostfrom experts without losing yourself in the process:
1. What's the downside?
This should always be question #1.What's the worst thing that could happen? Make sure you areclear on this before you do anything.
2. Does this make sense?
You don't have to be an expert tohave common sense. If you get advice or are asked to dosomething, step back and ask yourself if it makes sense.
3. Why shouldn't I do this?
All signs point to yes, but can youthink of any reason why you shouldn't take the expert's advice? If you are experiencing cognitive dissonance, you may not want toquestion what you're doing, but it's at this point where you needto the most.
4. What harm could come if I don't do this?
Will the worldend? Will you lose a limb? Sometimes we build things up in ourhead to where we feel intense pressure to do something, but thisquestion is great for deflating things and for putting the situationback into perspective.
5. What would happen if I waited?
Really bad decisions areoften made without much thought or reflection. Take a step back.Give yourself some time before you commit to anything.In your quest to find answers and guidance, be careful not toblindly follow experts and authority figures. Make sure you askyourself these five questions before you act. Trust me, I'm anexpert... 
(Question Authority image by Mira Hartford  ,CC 2.0 )

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