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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

In Which We Invite COS to Sharpen Her Scalpel

This morning, FOS sent me the following message:

"Watching a video on the NYTimes web site about the appeal of Ben Carson. Their first snippet of him? 'The ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic was built by professionals'."


I assume the point (?) being made (?) is that, when you want a job done right, hire an amateur--which would make the amateur into a professional, but never mind that.  Leaving aside for the moment the accuracy of this sentiment--we'll get to that in a moment--I'm trying to figure out what point Carson's trying to make.  That he is an amateur politician and thus more trustworthy than professionals?  That God trusts amateurs more than professionals and therefore amateurs are more favorable in the eyes of God?

Knowing Carson's penchant for fundamentalist rhetoric, I suspect the latter.  But then, God himself kind of stacked the deck against the Titanic professionals by throwing that iceberg at them.  If God plays hardball, I don't think it really matters whether you're a professional or an amateur--an engineering degree from MIT won't prevent a smiting, right?

For that matter, who says Noah was an amateur?  All we know about his professional life is that after the flood, he became a vintner.  We all know that operating wineries is the second career of choice for any number of accomplished professionals in other fields--look at Francis Ford Coppola!  It's completely possible that in his first career, Noah was a highly paid carpenter or a skilled arkwright or even an award-winning member of the pre-Hellenic Nouvelle Vague cineaste community, any of which would invalidate Carson's "amateur" claim.

Ultimately, though, I have to agree with Carson's sentiment: For important jobs, amateurs can often be preferable to professionals.  If, for example, I needed a tumor removed from my brain, and, to perform the operation, I had to select between, on the one hand, internationally renowned neurosurgeon and nutcase Ben Carson and, on the other, say, my cousin who likes to drink wine and jog, recent events would convince me to choose the amateur.


  1. Not that it matters WHERE he plagiarised it from, but that line was from Sunday's "Father Brown Mysteries" on PBS and it was meant to define the difference between a talented "amateur" sleuth and the bumbling professional police.

    The important thing to remember is that Carson was actually, with both Noah AND Father Brown comparing himself to a FICTIONAL character!

    Which, of course, Carson is, as well.