Zelophehad’s Daughters

Credentials: Do You Have Any Idea Who You’re Talking To?

Posted by Eve

I have mixed feelings about announcements of credentials. We’ve all seen credentials waved about obnoxiously or induce obsequiesness in otherwise rational persons. (I think here of the breathless tones in which some used to pronounce the name Hugh Nibley, for instance–tones I tend to suspect Nibley himself would not endorse.) In general, though, I really like to know what someone has studied or is studying. Education–what we love, what we know, what we hope to know–is an important part of who we are and of the perspectives we bring to various issues. And in any case, the Bloggernacle is so awash in credentials they lose some of their unhealthy power in a healthy way, I think, simply by virtue of the fact that a third of the people blogging at any given moment are avoiding their dissertations.

I really don’t object to credentials if the person sprouting them is simply bringing her knowledge to bear on the topic at hand. That seems knowledge’s most appropriate use. But I’ve now seen the same strange pattern occur in several different Bloggernacle debates. In the midst of a heated discussion, Person A, evidently unable to produce further arguments or evidence in support of her position, whips out her credentials as a way of one-upping Person B. (This is especially ironic when Person A claims, “I understand arguments and hermeneutics, and you don’t.” Whatever Person A’s other accomplishments, she evidently does not understand the limitations of the argument from authority.) It’s always disconcerting to see someone claim, sometimes in so many words, “I know this, and you don’t. I’ve studied this, and you haven’t.” Often that’s true, but of course the simple fact of superior knowledge of the subject isn’t enough if the discussion ranges beyond the mere establishment of facts–and on the Bloggernacle, doesn’t it always? We all owe each other more than, “Take my word for it: this is how it is.” The most twisted irony occurs, however, when it happens that evidently unbeknownst to Person A, Person B actually has more or more relevant credentials than Person A does.

I’ve seen this happen enough to become, I dearly hope, a little warier of dismissing anyone. Our inability ever to know the totality of another human being’s experience is the terror and the delight of ordinary human interaction, and in the semi-anonymity of the Bloggernacle, both the delight and the terror multiply. Just as the person I’m duking it out with online might sit three pews down from me in sacrament meeting, so too he might happen not to have mentioned that he’s a world-renowned authority on the topic under discussion. Which doesn’t mean, I don’t think, that I’m obliged to agree with him about the topic–only that I can never assume that my expertise trumps someone else’s any more than I can assume that my experience does.

49 Responses to “Credentials: Do You Have Any Idea Who You’re Talking To?”

  1. 1.

    Eve, you have no idea what you are talking about.

  2. 2.

    Rusty, as usual your ignorance speaks volumes. Eve totally knows what she’s talking about. Look — I’ve been to graduate school on two continents and engage in arguments for a living. You’re what, a sketch artist? Puhleeze.

  3. 3.

    Fortunately, credentialism isn’t a problem for me, since I was barely able to escape from BYU with a B.A. and a GPA that was none too stellar.

    But I’ve found that I can intimidate people into silence and agreement simply by ostentatiously displaying my superior righteousness.

  4. 4.

    Eve, I’m curious to know which bloggernacle debates came down to credentials in the way you’ve described. (I noticed you didn’t post any links :)
    I tend to think that there isn’t enough authority on the ‘nacle, mostly because I try to convince people in my every day life about arguments made by some nameless, faceless identity who says he’s pursuing a Ph.d from an American University. (talk about vague) In your example, I totally agree with you, but perhaps because I’m more like Mark IV, with very few identifiable credentials, it’s nice to hear people explain theirs, so we can understand what weight, if any, to give their argument or evidence.

  5. 5.

    This is a great topic. I tend to think that credentials are useful for certain things, but not for others. In some cases there are people in the bloggernacle who literally have no idea how little they know about what they think they know, but I suspect that credentials don’t frighten these personalities at all because their ignorance outweighs their sense of shame. Of course, it would be nice if I could just silence all of my opponents with reference to my VCR repair certificate, but I find that the arguments carry greater weight.

  6. 6.

    “a third of the people blogging at any given moment are avoiding their dissertations.”

    That low? :)

  7. 7.

    Nitsav, funny to see you on this thread, you were the vaguely credentialed person I was referring to in my comment above. (I was discussing your critique of the Hafen’s article with an uber-conservative single orthodontist in my ward. He dismissed my comments out of hand because I didn’t have a real ‘source’)
    But, I liked that post, btw. [end threadjack]

  8. 8.

    [Bows before TrailerTrash's VCR repair certificate.]

  9. 9.

    Jessawhy does have an interesting point. We can’t all be experts in everything so it is nice to know what credentials a person has who is making an argument as a shorthand about whether or not to trust them. The problem, however, is that I suspect that credentialed people aren’t all that impressed by people who share their credentials and prefer to deal with the arguments themselves.

  10. 10.

    In some cases there are people in the bloggernacle who literally have no idea how little they know about what they think they know, but I suspect that credentials don’t frighten these personalities at all because their ignorance outweighs their sense of shame.

    (Raises Hand.)

    Of course, I justify this lack of knowledge in the Same way TT does, I’d rather deal with the arguments themselves….

    I am shallow, but to me, a credential that is pretty important is

    *has a testimony the Gospel is True*
    and
    *is actively participating in the Gospel*
    and
    *is willing to honestly listen and consider what I am saying*

    For Example, I believe Blake Ostler has a testimony of the Gospel, so I am willing to listen to his concepts of LDS metaphysics. On the other hand, I have a lot harder time paying attention to Sterling McMurrin, who declared his unfaith in the Book of Mormon.

    Further, I am more likely to listen to Julie Smith feed me some hard facts about the NT than I am to listen to Bart Ehrman…

  11. 11.

    Jessawhy: That really amuses me for reasons I can’t quite put into words :)
    If you want some real credentials to throw at your orthodontist, drop me an email. Aaron dot nonymous at gmail dot com

    I’ve been thinking about credentials and bona fides, why I’m willing to listen to some people and not to others. I’ve tried to explain it in a post, but it’s not to my satisfaction yet. Part of it is just using the words to work out what I really think and why (one of the reasons I blog).

  12. 12.

    I was on a panel at Sunstone (just one). After it was over, during the Q&A part, the moderator mentioned how important credentials were to her in evaluating whether she needed to pay regard someone’s ideas. This struck very forcefully deep at the core of my most ginormous insecurities: I have no credentials of any kind beyond a high school diploma, with a independent study in the school of life. There is no reason for anybody to pay any attention to anything I say.

    A dear friend (bachelors and two masters) says I should just claim the title of autodidact. Since I had to ask the definition, I am reluctant to do so. However, now I know what one is.

  13. 13.

    (Sigh). I really do know how to proofread. Can I claim that the ice cream distracted me? It’s very good ice cream.

  14. 14.

    TrailerTrash, your name is credential enough. When is the “Official TrailerTrash guide to the Bible” due out? I need to preorder a copy on Amazon.

  15. 15.

    Now, I’d have serious trouble if Ann and TrailerTrash got in an argument. Because both of your names are really impressive credentials and I wouldn’t know who to believe. I guess I’d have to use my seer stone, like Alby Grant did last week on Big Love.

    One serious problem is that there’s really no credential for Mormon theology. We can circle around it — get credentials in Bible scholarship, or in academic theology from outside the Mormon world, or in 19th-century American history — but there’s no way to really get the bullseye. So it’s really a kind of amateur community, and the fact that I work on statistics and Latin American voting behavior for a living might not sink me all the way to oblivion… But I do learn so much from reading FPR and ZD, among other sites (BCC has its moments, too).

  16. 16.

    RT,
    I am just printing copies from a photocopier that my cousin’s half-sister’s ex-girlfriend stole from an elementary school. You can send me $9.95 plus shipping and handling and I will send you a copy. Act now and you’ll get a free Bart Simpson mask I got at a rodeo. “Apply directly to the forehead!”

  17. 17.

    Now, I’d have serious trouble if Ann and TrailerTrash got in an argument. Because both of your names are really impressive credentials and I wouldn’t know who to believe.

    I really like the point you suggest here, RT. In the bloggernacle, where we may not know of one another’s credentials, we still have posting and commenting reputation to go on, sometimes years’ worth. For example, I truthfully have no idea what your credentials are, RT, but having read hundreds of your comments and posts, and having found that you are invariably insightful and calm, I’m going to take a comment seriously if I see your name attached to it. Similarly for lots of other people in the bloggernacle whose writing I have read a bunch of, I take them seriously because I’ve read the good stuff they’ve written, even though I don’t know their credentials.

  18. 18.

    Ziff, I totally agree, but developing that understanding of a bloggers reputation takes so much time and energy. How does someone who is new to the bloggernacle assess value comments from various authors? Is that just something that can’t be rushed? Ever since last November when I discovered the bloggernacle, I’ve advocated some kind of voluntary directory, where a blogger could write a bio, contact info, or whatever they wanted to include (it could be specific or vague). I know there are bios for permabloggers on their own sites, but not a general list for people like me who visit other’s blogs, but don’t maintain my own. (unless this exists and I’m not aware of it, in which case I will look like a complete idiot)

  19. 19.

    Ann, you autodidact you – welcome to the club. I’m guessing that you and I share the same insecurity. In a roomful (or blogful) of smart people, do I dare speak up and put my ignorance on display? Fortunately for us, people with initials after their names make complete fools of themselves often enough that we ignoramuses needn’t feel too lonely.

    Robert Kirby said it best – we are all a bunch of idiot savants. We know one or two things reasonably well, and are hopelessly out of our depth at everything else.

  20. 20.

    I have a double major from BYU (computer science and Spanish). When I’m around liberal arts snobs at parties who think that engineering and sciences degrees don’t constitute a real education, I can counter with my Spanish major and my research backgrounds in CIA interventionist policies and the dissident feminism of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. And I found at BYU that I could mock my Spanish classmates for not having jobs lined up after graduation.

    But hey, I can follow the World Cup on Univision. I can also understand the specials at authentic Mexican restaurants. I can draw algorithms on the board when teaching lessons at Church.

    And yes, I’m avoiding my dissertation at the moment.

  21. 21.

    A couple of thoughts–

    When we started ZD, we had a lot of discussion about whether we should list our various academic pursuits on our “About Us” page. In the end, we opted to do it, because it’s obviously a big part of who we are, and it’s the kind of thing we’re interested in knowing about other people. But we also worried, as I recall, about coming across as pretentious, or giving the impression that we were only interested in hearing from people who were doing similar things educationally. I’ve been happy that people with a wide variety of backgrounds have been willing to jump into conversations here.

    I think Matt W. (#10) mentions what is a fairly common litmus test applied by Mormons: is the person a believer? And I certainly think there are situations when asking that question is relevant. On the other hand, I’m not sure that someone’s belief (or lack thereof) in the BoM is all that relevant to whether I should take their ideas about LDS metaphysics seriously. After all, don’t scholars outside the tradition, like Jan Shipps and Douglas Davies, also have something valuable to contribute to LDS thought–despite their status as “unbelievers”?

  22. 22.

    Something that has always amused me is the credentials people insist on. My favorite example was some people who were chiding Elder Oaks over his failure to listen to them on spiritual matters because of their academic credentials (though what they really were basing their entitlement were social credentials). A bunch of second rate academics chiding someone who had been the acting dean of Chicago’s law school … on an area of expertise they were woefully deficient in.

    Kind of like that Sunstone panelist.

    Or the people I saw complaining about the lack of credentials from people at FARMS. Again, they were upset that they people they were criticizing lacked social credentials, had not “paid their dues” by being part of the right coffee clatch. That they had published in journals, done real research, had graduate degrees and successfull careers did not count.

    But I do not think that a man or woman must be “trained for the ministry” before they have acceptable things to day.

  23. 23.

    Lynnette, I agree that the “believer” test is not always helpful. Davies is a genius, and we reject his work at our own cost; Jan Shipps always seems to get an exception to the test rule, as well. Sterling McMurrin is really worth reading, too, even though I think he gets Mormonism all wrong. But the test is also complex for people who claim to be believers, since pretty much everyone who uses the test has a different threshold in mind. Is a person who thinks the Book of Mormon is divine, 19th-century scripture enough of a believer to listen to? What about a Mormon who believes in religious pluralism? What about a Mormon who thinks women should have the priesthood? And so forth. In the end, the believer test can become a way of shielding ourselves from voices that are saying something we don’t like — not exactly a fruitful way to proceed.

    I’d note that some people have a reverse believer test — they won’t listen to anyone who believes “too orthodoxly.” Which clearly has the same problems.

  24. 24.

    RT,

    “Is a person who thinks the Book of Mormon is divine, 19th-century scripture enough of a believer to listen to? What about a Mormon who believes in religious pluralism? What about a Mormon who thinks women should have the priesthood?”

    Assign weights! No threshold needed– just a nice happy continuum. Peg Ed Decker at 0 and some arbitrarily trustworthy source at 1. See how handy that statistics background is in discussing Mormon theology?

  25. 25.

    While the believer test is not always helpful, it is sometimes helpful, and sometimes even vitally important. I would say it is porbably more important than CV in 99% of LDS conversations. I hope no one took me to mean we should start burning any book by a non-believer.

    I guess the ultimate litmus test/credential for me is the jerk/not jerk credential: Sterling McMurrin- Jerk more than half of the Time, Jan Shipps- never a Jerk. Ed Decker- Always a Jerk… etc etc.

    Of course, the jerk-o-meter is pretty subjective. Lots of people think Margaret Toscano is dandy, I think she’s a jerk most of the time. Some People think Hugh Nibley is a saint, I think he was a jerk some times. Some people think Dan Peterson is the king of Jerks, I think he is atleast less of a Jerk than Nibley. and on and on…

  26. 26.

    Eve,

    One of the great beauties of communicating on the net is that we deal more directly with one another’s thoughts, opinions, and feelings rather than having to wade through the initial biases we might erect based on the other person’s age, race, weight, presence or absence of piercings/tattoos or what kind of clothes they happen to be wearing. The discussions are stripped down to “this is what I believe” right from the get go without the social markers that would otherwise indicate “I am a credible person” or “I am perceived as being somewhat marginal in this culture, but please listen anyhow.” For some people that leveling that allows anyone at all to enter the fray is extremely liberating, and the very thing that keeps them coming back for more. For others, it can feel uncomfortable or annoying. Particularly those who are very accustomed to a certain level of deference, communicating without it may be a struggle.

    I think credentials may indicate a CONTEXT of understanding where another person is coming from. But having a PhD in a given topic or having studied extensively in a specific region of the world does not automatically mean that person will be smarter, wiser or more right.
    They do not in and of themselves prove any point. But they DO give a different slant to what has contributed to the speaker/writer coming to the conclusions he or she has and may influence the degree of credibility we are willing to extend.

    In my office at work I have my GED hanging right above my Master’s Degree. It’s amazing how many doors the GED has opened for me that the Master’s never could.

  27. 27.

    Frank, the problem is that one needs to know which beliefs are relevant to credibility in order to go about assigning weights. There’s a nominal scale in the background here, no matter how computational we get in the foreground.

    Matt W., I think your jerk scale is probably a lot more helpful than a believer scale. Although I probably disagree with some of your rankings.

  28. 28.

    RT- probably. I do think the believe scale has merit still. I mean I know Bart Ehrman is brilliant and all, but I would still feel a lot more comfortable talking about something Bart wrote with Kevin Barney or Julia Smith than with Bart himself.

  29. 29.

    Also, (responding to Lynette’s orignal comment on this) I think Davies and Shipps, as never having been LDS are not in the same camp as, say Jana Remy or Fawn Brodie. They are all non-believers, but their background does certainly effect my opinion of what they are saying.

    I guess I am thinking of specific topics and examples. Just to throw out a common topic: I am personally much mor elikely to pay attention if a church going believing member has concerns about sexism or thoughts on changing church policy. Of course the problem arises that people who are non church going non-believing members or non-members are generally aware of this and thus go with non-disclosure, while church going believing members feel it would be pompous to disclose such and so don’t.

  30. 30.

    RT,

    That’s not a problem, that’s the point!

    I was pointing out that one can (and many do) use a belief test, but not as a yes/no “threshold” as you present it. They just weight people based on their beliefs (even if they don’t assign numbers). Those weights can and should change based on the question at hand. But your discussion makes it sound clumsier and more awkward than it probably is. The higher probability I subjectively assign to a person being a good source (for whatever reason), the more weight I give them. Which is why Mormons listen to President Hinckley closely, mostly listen to their Bishop, and ignore Ed Decker.

    Now you may think those subjective probabilities are all messed up, because you have better ones in _your_ head. So it goes…

  31. 31.

    Frank, I think the downside is that we probably prevent ourselves from listening to ideas (even true ones) we don’t already hold… That’s why it’s awkward.

  32. 32.

    Certainly that is the case some of the time. But we also may prevent ourselves from listening to a bunch of ideas that aren’t true. In fact, we may have more time for true ideas because of all the bad ideas we aren’t listening to. It all depends on how good a filter we think we’ve got. A belief-based weighting scheme might work out pretty well in many cases. Or horribly, depending on the situation.

  33. 33.

    Thanks for all the comments; this has been an enlightening conversation for me.
    Just a few quick responses:
    Jessawhy asks the inevitable and excellent question lurking in the background of my post, but unfortunately I can’t point her to the examples I have in mind without (a) outing some Bloggernaclers who’ve chosen to keep certain of their credentials under wraps and (b) embarrassing some credential-wavers, which I really don’t want to do because I certainly couldn’t swear I’ve never waved mine (such as they are)! Your directory idea is a good one, by the way, because as you note, it would allow us all to know some basic information about those who write but don’t have their own blogs. (If you’re a computer person–I’m certainly not, I rely on Lynnette and Ziff to handle the technical aspect of things around here–maybe you could start one yourself, or enlist the aid of a computer person to start one?)
    TrailerTrash, I used to think you didn’t know what you were talking about, but wow–that VCR repair certificate of yours? Struck me as dumb as a Korihor.
    Ann, your story about your commentator really makes me sad. I do hope you know that you’re thought of highly around here, and I think I can speak for us collectively in saying that you have all the credentials you need with us. We really like you and are always interested in what you have to say.
    And the same goes for Mark IV, of course. (My high school GPA in particular was spectacularly bad. I remember looking at it one semester in some surprise that it actually could go below 2.0.)
    Belladonna, very interesting point about your GED. It’s a good reminder that different credentials open different doors, and some (like a GED) might open doors ordinarily closed to someone with a master’s degree.
    queuno, if you are reading this, your dissertation misses you.

  34. 34.

    One of my worst blogging experiences was getting an email chiding me for disagreeing with someone in a discussion, and then having credentials thrown at me as proof that my disagreement was out of line. As though I need a special degree to have an opinion that might be different from someone “smart.”

    My respect for that person went and stayed down that day.

    I think there is a time and place for credentials, but blogging is usually not one of them, especially when the game is oneupmanship and trying to stifle disagreement. Yuck.

  35. 35.

    The most ridiculous assertion of credentials is when Person A says, “When I experienced X, it felt like Y.” and Person B says, “No, experiencing X couldn’t have felt like Y. You are either deceived or you are a liar. I know this because [insert credentials here].” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been Person A in that scenario on the Bloggernacle.

  36. 36.

    What I really hate more than people waving around academic credentials are the people (actually I’ve only seen a few) who assert things like “I’ve been a bishop and a high priest group leader” to prove their activity/righteousness/worthiness. Bugs the heck out of me!

  37. 37.

    The times when I find credentials especially important are when it is information rather than arguments that are at stake. I can do my best to evaluate an argument without regard to the credentials of the person making it. However, if someone is advancing information, there is often no good way (without prohibitive effort) for me to check to see if the information is sound. At times like that, I would like to know whether I should put any weight behind what they are saying. Credentials can be very helpful in a situation like that.

    Matt W, you obviously don’t like Sterling McMurrin, but I can’t tell what he did to make you so upset with him. Is it just that he doesn’t believe in the historicity of the BofM and was honest about his disbelief? What did he do to justify your description of being a jerk more than half the time?

  38. 38.

    RT: One serious problem is that there’s really no credential for Mormon theology.

    What?! I thought the rule was “s/he who writes the most blog posts on Mormon theology has the best credentials in Mormon Theology”…

    And yes Matt W., what’s up with the Sterling McMurrin bashing? His little Mormon Theology book is really good stuff. (And I disagree with RT — I think McMurrin mostly gets Mormonism right in it.) President McKay didn’t think Sterling was a jerk.

  39. 39.

    This is a great question and discussion, Eve, in part because there are no easy answers.

    I think your cautious endorsement of anti-credentialism is a pretty good approach. But really, there are costs either way.

    As you (and many others) have noted, credentials aren’t everything. There are some bloggernacle stars who lack traditional credentials. And there are some credentialed windbags who really don’t know their stuff at all.

    Even more so, credentials are absolutely limited in scope. My law credentials give me an edge when discussing legal statutes. They don’t mean that I know about literature or theology or VCR repair.

    Your indictment of unhealthy credentialism, I think, reflects these concerns.

    On the other hand, credentials _can_ be useful. I simply don’t have time to read everything in the bloggernacle, or everything in the library. And I’m more likely to pay attention to comments or posts from people who I view as likely sources of interesting, thoughtful discussion.

    That assessment — “do I care what this person has to say?” — is based on a number of factors. Whether they’re a jerk, as Matt mentions. Whether they’re interesting. Whether we’ve had past interactions.

    And yes, one of the factors is, what their credentials are. It’s not the only factor. But it’s something I bear in mind, in deciding how much weight to give to someone’s post or comment, or even whether to read it at all.

  40. 40.

    Jessawhy (#18):

    How does someone who is new to the bloggernacle assess value comments from various authors?

    You asked about whether there’s a bloggernacle directory. There isn’t that I know of, other than the bio information on the individual blogs.

    One possibility for finding out about a particular individual is to use DKL’s LDSelect “Latest Comments” feature to find recent discussions they’re involved in. That way you can at least read comments made by the same person across different topics, potentially on different blogs, and perhaps get some sense of what they’re like. Sorry–I know this is far from perfect, but it might be a start.

  41. 41.

    I only have one instance of credentialism that has happened to me in the Bloggernacle. I said something in one thread to the effect that, often the first thing people do when I tell them I am a lawyer is tell me a lawyer joke. One of the permabloggers at T&S sent me a private email that day, starting it like this: “I worked for a lawyer for xx years, and my favorite lawyer joke is…”

    It still made me laugh.

  42. 42.

    Thanks, Ziff. I have used that feature on LDSelect. I usually only do it for bloggers I already like, though. (and so I can remember where I’ve posted comments)
    But, as the bloggernacle is like a real community in some ways, there really are no short cuts in getting to know people. Someone new will have to establish themselves to others, and we all make different judgments anyway based on our own experiences.
    By the way, Ziff, I know you mentioned you might be able to make it to the AZ snacker. I hope you do, it would be nice to meet you in person.

  43. 43.

    By the way, Ziff, I know you mentioned you might be able to make it to the AZ snacker. I hope you do, it would be nice to meet you in person.

    Thanks! I do hope to be there, and I look forward to meeting you too.

  44. 44.

    I was sitting in the adult session of our stake conference tonight and one of the speakers made a comment that made me think of this thread.

    In a nutshell — maybe our real credentialism in the Church isn’t academic — but a blend of geographic, tenure, and depth of Church experience.

    If you’re going to base your testimony on the arm of the flesh, will be be from a Utah Mormon who has been in the Church for 15 generations but hasn’t read Bushman, or a lifelong-Mormon southerner who never went to BYU but knows his Bible inside and out? [Just to pick two polar opposites.]

    One can argue that academically, the general Church membership uses credentials in a binary format with these yes/no questions:

    BYU graduate
    grad school
    MBA
    Returned missionary
    Married in temple (particularly for the Relief Society)
    Possess current temple recommend
    Holds a calling
    (non-binary) “Type of calling”

    Get outside the faux-academic discussions we have here in the nacle and our credentialism does not consist of degrees.

  45. 45.

    queno,
    I would also add that who you’re married to is a big credential, at least for women (feminist arguments on hold for the moment)
    Beginning a sentence with “My husband is a stake president” lends itself to more listening ears than, “my husband the nursery leader.”
    I would just attach that to “type of calling”
    I imagine the opposite doesn’t really hold true, however. That’s what makes the bloggernacle so interesting. First, you can’t always tell if a blogger is a man or woman, but when you do, you can’t judge them based on this list above. It’s very refreshing, actually.
    Also, I think marriage status is an important credential in the church as well. Single members, divorced or never married, seem to lack some credentials in the church, unfortunately.

  46. 46.

    36. FoxyJ, said:
    What I really hate more than people waving around academic credentials are the people (actually I’ve only seen a few) who assert things like “I’ve been a bishop and a high priest group leader” to prove their activity/righteousness/worthiness. Bugs the heck out of me!

    I’m curious – are you referring only to when someone uses this in a specific topic discussion or would you also consider it annyoing / irrelevant in an author’s bio on a blog?

    I ask for a specific reason…there’s a brand new LDS blog that’s been coming together for a while and is soon to go public… those of us who are writing the initial posts were asked to post brief bios for the benefit of readers. Some are choosing to state past callings and some are not.

    How do others feel about this?

    I don’t think having had XYZ leadership position in any way conveys that a person is smarter, more righteous or worthy, or more qualified in most respects – but it CAN give them a different view of things. (for example, someone who has been an RS President generally will have some different views about visiting teaching and church welfare than someone who never has)

  47. 47.

    Belladonna, it seems to me that there’s a difference between saying “I’m a Bishop, so I’m more righteous and everything I say is correct” and saying something like “As a Bishop, I saw ____ behind the scenes, and you might want to take this into consideration when you think about issue X.” The former is using credentials to raise yourself above others, and the latter is using credentials to share information that another person may not know because they haven’t had your set of experiences. Which I think is what you are saying in your last paragraph.

  48. 48.

    Geoff and Jacob:

    It’s not just that he didn’t believe the Book of Mormon was true. He also showed severe disdain for anyone who did believe the Book of Mormon was true, which is, to me, being a Jerk in the realm of Mormon Theology. Also, the whole swearing elder “holier than though” clique thing really just rubs me the wrong way.

  49. 49.

    I find the ‘nacle kind of intimidating with all the credentials. It is funny that I seem to do better on forums where some of the people have credentials as well. But I don’t think there is as much emphasis on credentials there in the sense that you have spoken of here. I am using my screen name on a couple of forums here. Also, I have linked to a friends web site that links to his forum. This friend does not have traditional credentials. He has done a lot of personal study as he loves to learn. He is shy about promoting the blog so I sometimes link to it should someone be interested in checking it out. It is all free and all good. Abby76/Barb

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