Sometimes teaching high school was rather daunting. Often I wished students were equipped with funnels sticking out of their heads so I could just pour the knowledge in.
On one occasion, a young lady in my freshman class was having trouble understanding an idea. I don’t remember what the topic was, but I explained things to her several times, only to be greeted by her forehead frowning in confusion. Finally, a student sitting next to her repeated what I had just said, in the exact same words. Imagine my surprise when the first girl said, “Oh! Now I get it!” Then she snapped at me, “Why didn’t you say that?”
The rest of the class replied in unison, “She did!”
“No, she didn’t,” the girl protested.
“Yeah, she did,” the other students answered.
I can just imagine what had been happening inside this girl’s brain. The minute I opened my mouth, an alarm went off: Breep! Breep! Teacher talking! Teacher talking! Close all shields! Protect brain from authoritative adult! Breep! Breep!
Actually, I had discovered this phenomenon long ago, when I was in grade school. If a popular girl said something, it was oohed and aahed as clever. If I later repeated the exact same thing (even if I said it the exact same way), it was derided as stupid—and by the very people who had applauded the first girl.
From this I concluded that to some folk It is not what’s said that gives a statement value; it is the person saying it.
I call it The Source Phenomenon.
Unfortunately, The Source Phenomenon extends even to voters in our Presidential Elections. Check out these videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NzhQWcc7h4 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzC-l7tovFk
Perhaps this explains why people ridicule statements by religious leaders, especially if they’re (gasp!) Catholic. If a priest expresses an opinion, somebody is bound to jeer him as dimwitted, even if he was merely quoting someone that person agrees with. Because, you see, to some people, all Christians are dimwitted, and therefore whatever they say must be irrational.
It’s so bad that sometimes I think if the pope said, “2 + 2 = 4,” somebody would comment, “What an idiot!”
As for that student in my class, she did look more than a bit dismayed afterward. I could see she was giving a lot of thought to what had just happened.
Maybe—I hope!—she came to the realization that deep inside her brain there was a bias that perhaps she should take a closer look at.