My Uncle Ginger was a marine.
His ship was The Prince of Wales, one of the most modern, powerful battleships afloat.
When Japan and Britain were at war, he was sent to the Far East.
The Prince of Wales was sent along with The Repulse, another huge battleship.
This was called Force Z.
They were sent to protect Singapore from Japanese invasion.
Apparently Churchill was advised to wait while air cover was arranged.
Churchill said, don’t be ridiculous.
Who ever heard of an aeroplane sinking a battleship?
All the experts say it couldn’t be done.
Well, unfortunately the Japanese didn’t listen to Churchill’s experts.
And they used aeroplanes to sink both battleships.
Uncle Ginger and the surviving crew managed to get ashore in Singapore.
The impregnable British fortress that had the largest land-mounted guns in South East Asia.
All pointing out to sea.
Because all the experts knew Singapore could only be attacked from the sea, the land was just impenetrable jungle.
No one could come that way.
Unfortunately, once again, the Japanese weren’t listening.
Their army came down through the jungle and captured Singapore.
Because the massive guns couldn’t be turned around to fire on the Japanese.
The experts said they would never need to.
And so Uncle Ginger spent 4 years in a Japanese POW camp.
The French experts were no better.
They built a massive, defensive fort, practically the length of France.
The Maginot Line.
It cost the equivalent of billions upon billions of Euros.
The part they didn’t bother with was the forest at The Ardennes..
All the experts knew it was impenetrable.
So they didn’t extend The Maginot Line that far.
But the German weren’t listening to the French experts.
Their army came through The Ardennes and captured France.
So, not quite so impenetrable as they hoped then.
History is a procession of ‘experts’ getting it wrong.
In the pub opposite BMP there was a condom machine in the Gents’ toilet.
On it was stamped, ‘Tested to British Standard 1148′
Under it someone had written “So was The Titanic”
People only listen to experts because it saves them having to take responsibility when things go wrong.
They’ve got a readymade excuse.
In primitive societies they didn’t have experts, they had people who can do stuff.
The medicine man was quite simply the person who could cure people.
If he couldn’t, he wouldn’t be the medicine man, would he?
But in our society it’s just the opposite.
We’re much more sophisticated.
The medicine man is the man who has papers saying he’s the medicine man.
Whether he can cure people or not.
We take his advice because his papers absolve us of responsibility.
No one can blame us if we listen to him.
His knowledge, his assurance, his language, makes him credible.
No one can argue with that.
But hang on.
Don’t we get good and bad people in every field?
Good and bad car mechanics?
Good and bad plumbers?
Good and bad comedians?
Good and bad artists?
Good and bad lawyers?
So having the right papers, the right language, the credibility, is no guarantee of being good at something.
It’s no guarantee of really being an expert.
In which case how do we know who listen to?
Ultimately, we can’t evade responsibility.
We choose who to listen to.
So we’re responsible for the outcome.
If we listen to the wrong research, choose the wrong agency, pick the wrong media, run the wrong ads, we will take the can back for it.
Whatever any so-called experts told us.
We chose the experts.
And we chose to listen.
And, when it all goes wrong, you’re on your own.
My Uncle Ginger taught me that.