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Harris Blackwood: Beware of a Web full of ‘experts’ on every single topic
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

The internet is an amazing place or thing or whatever it is. There are lots of things you can learn and there are other things that may get you in trouble.

A few weeks ago, our clothes dryer quit working. We found out that it was the motherboard. I’ve taken apart a few washers and dryers in my time and managed to get most of them put back together. Sometimes, I end up with either one fewer or one more screw than when I started.

I don’t know exactly what a motherboard does, I just had some wet clothes and wanted to get them dry.

According to the troubleshooting guide, the motherboard needed replacing. I typed in the brand and model number of our dryer and was directed to a video that showed me how to do the whole job.

I took the board out, went to a place that sells appliance parts and bought a new one. Fortunately, I watched the video and knew that I needed to trade-in the old board.

An hour or so later, the board was in, the dryer worked and the water was going out of the clothes.

But cyberspace is now filled with people who purport to be experts. If you break it down, an “ex” is a has-been and a “spurt” is a drip under pressure. In the pre-computer era, I heard an expert described as someone who was from more than 20 miles away and brought their own slides.

For the young whippersnappers, a slide was a rectangular piece of film that was projected onto a screen. It was the precursor of the Powerpoint.

We had a neighbor who was a self-proclaimed expert on vacations. He would invite us over after his family had been to some great national destination and show us all their slides. I do mean ALL the slides. I didn’t know you could take that many pictures of the oldest train or the largest potato.

Today, more advanced experts have a website, a Facebook page and a blog. They pontificate on their chosen subjects. Most of them have the “my way or the highway” attitude.

Some of them frighten me. There are people who have all sorts of cures for various ailments and have never darkened the door of a medical school. Usually, this is some kind of all-natural concoction that is made from a tree that only grows near a river you’ve never heard of in a country that requires a globe and a magnifying glass to find.

There are also people who are experts on various sporting activities. If you are 5-foot-5 and weigh about 150 pounds soaking wet, don’t tell me about how to play football unless you have donned a helmet and shoulder pads.

The other place you find these experts is in financial investments. If your name is not on the list of the richest people in America, then, I don’t want to hear how I can strike it rich. I want to hear from Warren Buffett or has more money than they can spend.

So here is my nonexpert advice: when offered online wisdom from a stranger, to use the words of the late President Ronald Reagan, “Trust, then verify.”


Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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