For over two years we have increasingly seen this term in social and mainstream media — Do Your Own Research (DYOR).
“The words imply a fundamental distrust in authority, and thus a shift to complete self-reliance. In the case of crypto, where there may be rewards but there are definitely massive risks, you should want to rely on your own judgment rather than someone else’s, who might be paid for their endorsement or simply be a fool.” —Ross Dawson 2021-05-31
Ross warns us that that not trusting experts could lead to massive trust issues in society and, “How this plays out will be a fundamental factor in shaping our future society”. I agree.
For the most part, the lack of trust has been brought on by the institutions and those within their hierarchies. Let’s just look at this pandemic and the medical guidance put forth by experts. This has been my sensemaking experience and my journey of doing my own research.
02 March 2020 — For my own understanding of the COVID-19 disease I start with centres of networked expertise — WHO, CDC, Public Health Agency of Canada. I trust these sources, and if you meet people who don’t, then avoid close contact with them.
05 September 2020 — I see information from the WHO and CDC as lagging indicators, and no longer my first stop to find out what is happening now. I am also starting to understand that public health experts and epidemiologists, while both medical professionals, can have widely diverging perspectives on this pandemic.
28 November 2020 — To understand our current situation we need to move to the edge or find others who are there already. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote — “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over; on the edge you find things you can’t see from the center.” On the edges the answers may not be clear, but they are less obscured than in the centre. People on the edge mostly do not work for the likes of WHO, CDC, or PHAC.
15 March 2021 — This pandemic has shown the abject failure in communications from many of our institutions and authorities around the world. First they have to get out of their ‘ivory towers’ and meet people where they are. Leadership by walking around — physically or virtually —is necessary in our connected world. If our experts are not helping society make better decisions about health care, then what are they doing?
21 December 2021 — Only in the past month have public health authorities in Canada acknowledged that SARS-CoV-2 is primarily spread through the air, after more than a year of prevaricating by ‘Droplet Dogmatics’ in face of the evidence.
27 December 2021 — The past 20 months have witnessed a global crisis in leadership. We will not distribute vaccines to poor countries because we are letting the market lead our pandemic responses. Public health officials have held on to droplet dogmatism in spite overwhelming evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is airborne. Schools have been kept open while many children have not been able to get vaccinated. This pandemic has become a crisis in network leadership.
31 March 2022 — Twitter has kept me informed through this pandemic. I have been informed by subject matter networks of experts who share their knowledge with the public on Twitter. Learning in the complex domain requires different ways of organizing and conversing. Twitter will never be the journal of reference, but it may be the best first point of contact during a crisis.
06 April 2022 —As a society, we learned nothing from the influenza pandemic of 1918. For example, there are no monuments to the medical heroes of that pandemic anywhere in the world. It was as if society had suffered collective amnesia. Today’s situation may be partially due to society’s inability to talk about and learn from the influenza pandemic.
07 April 2022 — This pandemic has been managed in most cases from a perspective of making small adjustments and conserving resources. It has not worked. There was no global shut-down and half measures were the order of the day. Over two years later and locally we have the highest rates of infections and deaths since the pandemic was declared.
01 May 2022 — We are in an information war — one that pits logic and emotion against each other.
If I had listened to the institutional experts on how to deal with this pandemic I would have been misinformed and even disinformed. Instead I found a network of experts who shared their research expertise and made it accessible to the general public, mostly on Twitter. Did it take effort? Yes. Was it time-consuming? Yes. Did I have a choice? Not in my opinion. Avoiding the potential effects of long-covid has made it worthwhile so far.
I was not alone in my search for good data and better insights. My Twitter pandemic list still provides valuable and timely information. Others, such as NB Citizen Covid Updates (a medical librarian) have stepped up to collate and curate actionable insights for the average person. Perhaps ‘how this plays out’ will be more engaged citizens. I certainly hope so.
“I suggest that the leaders will be found among the aggressively intelligent citizenry, liberated from many tasks and obligations by technology freely shared; using data, information and knowledge acquired from open source databases, produced from the multiples of billions of dollars of public money invested through research councils, universities, social agencies, and public institutions.” —Peter Levesque 2004