Friday, August 17, 2012

How are an expert and a label alike?

Oh, my goodness.  It's been too long since my last post.  I feel like I have spent the majority of my summer getting ready to teach my children this fall.  Having a houseful of toddlers is very hectic and busy, but it is not the only season of a woman's life to be "on-the-run."  Understandably, different "times" touch families in different ways, but each of these seasons rightfully has its own priorities, urgent matters, and pivotal points.  Every stage requires not only self-examination and evaluation but also a critical view of all the information given to us.  That is why today I am linking you to an entry by Holly Spangler in her blog with the PrairieFarmer, but before we get to her blog let me ask you this:  

How is an expert and a product label the same?

First, we automatically put our trust in what it says.  I mean, "Why did it say it if it wasn't true?"

Second, sometimes the information presented is to convince you of something, not necessarily to tell you all the details or to help you make an informed decision.  Most experts (and labels) want you to believe everything they say--and agree with them--without questioning them or delving into the facts.

Is this true for all experts or all labels on products?  Of course not.  However, as consumers most of us have been misled enough times by a label that we automatically have a small spirit of doubt when reading a product's description.  Unfortunately, we do not think as critically about what an expert says.

Holly Spangler,
writer for
Prairie Farmer
Fortunately for us, Holly Spangler asked questions about a chart she read entitled, "Organic vs. Conventional."  Spangler writes for the Prairie Farmer for a reason.  Not only is she a talented writer (and photographer), but also she knows the farming community.  Farming is full of statistics, and none of them truly mean anything unless you ask questions.  She asked questions.  

At face-value the statistics on the chart are staggering and suggest that non-organic food is so horrible that it almost isn't worth eating.  However, the chart left off very important data.  So much information was omitted that the reader has no idea that the research was actually done regarding nutrition-rich soil vs. nutrient-lacking sandy/rocky soil.  The chart also neglects to inform readers that the research was done in 1948 and in no way resembles current production of organic and non-organic foods.

Please read the Holly Spangler's blog at Prairie Farmer.  If you enjoy organic food or would like to know a little more, she even gives you a link to a family-based organic farm.  As you read the Prairie Farmer article, ask yourself:  
Would I have seen the "holes" in this chart?  
Would I have asked questions?  
Would I have believed the "expert" behind the chart without question?  
And most importantly—
In what areas of my life right now am I accepting the advice demands,  and/or admonishments from an "expert" without question?  
Am I willing to start asking questions?

Some people do not want to ask the tough questions, because they are afraid their lives will be turned upside down.  That might happen.  If it does, the change probably needed to happen, BUT the good news is that by asking questions you may also gain a greater confidence in a particular person and be even more encouraged by that person's words and advice.

Shopping choices you make touch your family for a short time—the shampoo gets used up, the toy quits working, etc.  Even so, it is good to question the information on the labels of products you provide your family.  Yet, the choices we make on following the advice of others can have a long-term affect on your family—education, self-esteem, understanding God, etc.  Do you trust those leading you in these areas because they are "experts" or because they have passed your scrutiny as reliable and trustworthy (even if slightly flawed) mentors?  A label and an expert may be alike in more than one way, but how about your response? 

Asking questions takes time and can feel like a thankless job.  I have spent much of my summer studying and asking questions about issues and subjects that will touch my family.   Although it has been rewarding overall, fun has not been a big element.  Even so, as I go into this school year, I know that, even though I may not do what I want to do the way I want to do it, I can trust the guidance and advice I am following because I asked the questions and followed up on the answers.

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