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Where’s your Credentials?

Ever since I started blogging back in 2009 there’s been two uncertainties constantly nagging at me. One is the fear of being wrong online (which we discussed on the first episode of the Homeschooled NerdCast) and the other is the feeling of incompetence because of my lack of experience and credentials. I can’t help but feel like every time someone watches one of my videos or reads an article I wrote they’re judging me. Like the whole time they’re thinking inside “What right do you have to give me advice? Where’s your Ph.D? Where’s your paper in the science journals? You haven’t even gone to college yet. Do you really think you have the right to talk to us about Science?”

I’ve even had this question posed to me on my Facebook page (to which I replied that I was working on them), but because this feeling of incompetence has been bothering me recently and keeping me from writing articles I’ve decided to face my fear once and for all and defend my claim as a scientist.

#1 – Being Wrong isn’t Wrong.
Here’s a question: Is being wrong really wrong? Obviously when it comes to major things (like whether God exists or whether evolution is a lie) I have no fear of being wrong. But what about little things?

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For instance, in my recent VinSense episode ‘Is Pokemon Evolutionary?’ I ended up re-recording the part about genes twice. The first time because I used the term ‘passive alleles’ instead of ‘recessive alleles’ and the second time because I had referred to blue eyes as dominant when they’re actually recessive. Now would it have been a big deal for me to be wrong about this? Yes and no.

I really wish that I’d sent the script for the video to one of my friends like Jake Doberenz who knows more about Biology than I do. Unlike ‘Majora’s Mask Proves Creation’ I was getting into uncharted territory for me in the Pokemon video. I think I did a relatively good job considering.

But what if I hadn’t caught that mistake? Would that have destroyed the video? The main point of the video would still be there and it’s not like blue eyes being recessive destroys any part of the argument about evolution. But at the same time by having a misstatement inside the video I would in a sense destroy part of my credibility in the eyes of better informed people and also risk misinforming less nerdy viewers. So in that sense being wrong is a bad thing. That’s why I do fact checks.

#2 – I’m a SCIENCE NERD!!!
When it comes to referring to myself I originally called myself a research astronomer or aspiring creation astronomer. But as time went on I’ve started preferring the term ‘Science Nerd’. Not only because I’ve reconsidered my original plan of becoming a scientist after finding more about the scientific industry but also because it really defines who I am. I’m not just an aspiring scientist or some kid who thinks he knows a lot about science even though he’s never been to college. I’ve spent a lot of time reading about science and studying it in school (homeschool of course—I’m the Homeschooled Nerd).

Whether that gives me enough credibility to be called a nerd in your mind it’s a position that I’m a lot more comfortable with defending in my view. Research astronomer is a profession that requires an education and a ton of research keeping up-to-date. Not only do I not work for any kind of real astronomy journal, but I’m also usually one of the last in my field to find out about new developments. It’s embarrassing, but it’s one of those things that I’ve never been able to fix.

#3 – What Does this Qualify?
The question of the day: What exactly is Vinnie Harned qualified to do? I’m going to assume that you accept my title as a Science Nerd. If not, you can just leave, I’m done with messing with you.

At any rate, I think my YouTube channel is the easiest thing to qualify as trustworthy. I work really hard to make sure that all the facts are well-researched and reliable. Plus I have my small following to keep me in line if I ever make too big a mistake. Usually I’ll catch these before anyone else and correct them in the video annotation.

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The same goes for books. I’ve been working on my first book about astronomy for over a year now and I’ve put a lot of research into it. I’ve even been having a friend of mine who I met through Creation Astronomy Now critic a few of my chapters (he hasn’t told me what his views are, but I think he’s an agnostic). As soon as I get the next few drafts done I plan to have more of my science nerd friends read it in search of errors because I want it to be top-notch.

The question I have is, does that even matter? A skeptic is still going to question the things that I say because he believes that it’s all brainwash. So even if I had an advanced degree from the best college in America everything I do would be in an atheist’s mind undependable and bogus.

And what about articles? I’ve been working on an article for Creation Astronomy Now and the Creation Club about the recent discoveries on Pluto and I’ve just been feeling discouraged. I can’t help but feel like there are plenty of people more qualified to write about this. We’ve got Danny Faulkner, Spike Psarris, David Rives, and several others. Does the internet really need me?

On one hand I’ve been told my unique style allows me to explain a lot of complex topics in ways that normal people can understand. But I usually save those kind of things for my web series ‘VinSense’. So half of me almost just wants to give up writing articles altogether and just focus on videos and podcasts.

But there’s one last thing that keeps me going: The fact that articles get more views. As awesome as VinSense and the Creation Astronomy Now podcast may be, they just don’t compare to the kind of views that Articles get.

But analytics set aside, the fact of the matter is that credentials don’t really matter that much. Remember when Christ sent his disciples into the world? Jesus didn’t tell them to go to the synagogue and study so that they’d be able to amaze the world with their knowledge. He told them to wait till the spirit came so that they could be witnesses. The apostles were able to debate with highly-educated men because God is the source of all wisdom.

From Vinnie’s Blog

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Vinnie Harned

Written by Vinnie Harned

Vinnie Harned is a teenage homeschooled student with a love for science, technology, and astronomy. He also runs the YouTube channel "Homeschooled Nerd" as well as the podcasts 'The Homeschooled Nerdcast', 'Creation Astronomy Now', and his own podcast and blog for content creators 'Still Not Famous' at www.VinnieHarned.com.

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Comments

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  1. Hello, Vinnie: Just keep on keepin’ on. Keep reading. Keep researching. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Beware also. Keep Stephen Jay Gould’s warning in mind: “ACADEMIA IS A DEN OF VIPERS.” –pg. 112 of “The Panda’s Thumb.” Don’t let the snakes stop you. Keep writing also and work very, very hard to be as clear and articulate as possible. Remember the lesson of Piltdown Man: lots of touted geniuses are actually very naive and unlearned outside of their narrow specialty. I don’t give a hoot about “credentials.” The quality of a work is self-testifying whether coming from a “credentialed” academician or not. May the Lord bless you in your work for His kingdom and His glory.

  2. Vinnie – thank you for writing this! Definitely something I needed to hear. Similar to what you mentioned, I’ve constantly run into my own mistakes and often wondered why I bother to write when there are more qualified people. Thankfully, it doesn’t depend on us – rather, God can use our imperfect words to draw people to Him and give Him glory. Just letting The Lord use us to reach one more person with His Truth and Gospel makes even the toughest parts completely worth it! Thanks for the encouragement and God bless!

  3. Hey Vinnie! I really appreciate this article. I’ve written a few articles on here and had the exact same feelings. I’m a college physics student about to go to grad school, and honestly, I was so worried that some atheist scientist would find errors in my articles and discredit my research later on. But you’re right about being wrong. Being wrong is part of the learning process, and professionals should know that. Science is about passion and curiousity for the world around you. I don’t mean to go on and on, but your article really touched me. Thanks and blessings.

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