People Who Know Everything

If you read a few books, blogs or articles on, well, anything, you'll soon find that there are plenty of people in the world who feel they know all there is to know about something. With the environment being such a hot topic, there are plenty of people who know just how we should all approach not only our lives, but also our gardens. From the people who think all lawns are chemically-dependent and can't imagine why anyone should be allowed to have one, to the people who feel we should all only eat organic, locally grown food, even during a long, northern winter, to the very extreme cases of people who firebomb research facilities because they dare to research potentially life-saving technologies such as genetic modification, there's always someone out there telling us what to do.

Sometimes, of course, there is a right way to do things. However, there are plenty of people who are not experts that like to think they know all about the "best" way of doing things, sometimes based purely on fads instead of reality. I came across this story in Lewis Hill's excellent book on plant propagation (page 89):

"When the back-to-natural-living movement was in full swing in the late sixties, a new homesteader in our town called to discuss fruit trees. He asked how long it would take to grow a producing orchard if he planted seeds. [The knowledgeable author informed him that only grafting would produce good fruit, but this know-it-all had to have an all-natural orchard, and he wouldn't be convinced that grafting wasn't unnatural, so he planted an orchard from seed.] We never knew how the project would have turned out, because his goats, also doing what comes naturally, ate the trees. He abandoned the orchard, and finally gave up farming and returned to the city."

This story really has nothing to do with anything in the book, so I think the author just included it because it's pretty funny. But haven't we all come across someone who just assumes that they know everything there is to know about a topic, and feels that it's the experts who are always wrong? It's easy, for example, to criticize farmers for their practices, but how many of the critics would be heading back to the city before their goat ate their last apple tree?

Anyway, the point is that there are lots of ways to do things, so we should all be open to advice, especially from people with a lot more experience than us.

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