Saturday, November 05, 2005

Age, Wisdom, and Reliability

I recently attended a three day conference. The presenter was a man in his late 50's. He was talking about how to be a better teacher. He had at the core of his message a lot of scientific evidence and made several psychological assertions. I don't know whether the information he presented was accurate or not, though I certainly found it believable. In spite of my agreement with the logic of the presentation, I was surprised by the feeling of skepticism I had as I listened to the presentation (even though I accepted).

Because of the age of the presenter, I thought that he had probably been giving a similar message for many years. If he'd really been citing the same scientific facts year after year, I wondered how many of them would still hold up under the scrutiny of present-day scholarship. After all, new finding alter or overturn old findings all the time. How did I know I could trust what this man was telling me?

Maybe my distrust was more related to the fact that he talked like a Democrat and reminded me of Joe Lieberman. :-) No, it really was the fact that he was older. If he had been a man in his thirties, I would have perceived that this was the information he had just finished digging up and that he was embarking on his quest to share it with the world.

I had a similar feeling of skepticism as I listened to a Mormon scholar who is now retired. I thought, "Sure he was great in his day (I think), but is his information still accurate or is he telling us stuff that's already outdated?" It turns out that I found his presentation to be very convincing and I think he was connected to the important facts. But why the initial doubt? I wonder where that prejudice comes from and how widespread the tendency is to trust younger scholars more than older scholars.


Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.