When the experts are all wet

When the experts first predicted the ''greenhouse effect,'' I was ecstatic. Carbon dioxide was going to build up to the point where the earth's temperatures warmed, melting the polar icecaps and raising the ocean waters. First of all, I'm an avid gardener - plus I had just purchased some land 10 miles from the shore. By the 21st century, my lot was going to be prime beachfront property. I proceeded to buy out both of my neighbors for a song.

The more I thought about it, the better it got. In 35 years I would be ready to retire, and the greenhouse effect would save me the trouble of moving from frosty Connecticut to balmy Miami. By then, Florida would have come to me. Three cheers for internal combustion.

But somewhere deep in my mind I knew it was too good to be true. The other day I read how another band of marauding experts had bushwhacked the theories of the greenhouse-effect gang. This new set of geniuses was claiming that the seas may actually recede as our weather warms up. I might have to drive 20 or 30 miles to reach the beach.

Boy, was I hot. How do these pencil-pushing, mortar-board-sporting smarty-pants expect a person to make a rational real estate investment? It set me to wondering how alleged scientific authorities can disagree so completely. What good are a passel of experts if they aren't right half the time? In fact, I can't remember one expert who has been on the money lately.

Remember when we were supposed to brush three times a day with a toothbrush that resembled a mace? Well, those who vigorously followed that astute dental advice wound up with no gums and a pile of remarkably clean teeth rattling around inside their mouths.

Wall Street is crawling with experts. When business is bad they worry about unemployment, unused factory capacity, and shaky consumer confidence. As soon as things pick up a little they wring their hands about rekindling inflation and an overheated economy. It's a miracle recessions ever end. By the way, if you have a stack of money that is too big to burn and won't fit in your trash compactor, just entrust it to a Wall Street broker.

Now, you would assume that the owner of a major-league baseball team would have to know something about the sport. George Steinbrenner has spent millions upon millions on his New York Yankees. The pin-stripers are three deep in millionaires at every position except the one that counts the most - pitcher. Last season they finished third in their division. This year, late in June, they were hovering near last place, some 20 games behind the league-leading Tigers. Attaboy, George.

And how about President Reagan? He's an expert on communists. He knows exactly what they're up to - no good. We're going to fix their wagons with some space-based antimissile weapons. But first Mr. Reagan had to break from battling the Reds so he could visit mainland China and smile at and cuddle up to 1 billion Marxists.

Then there's Nikita Khrushchev, the late Soviet leader. He was an expert on capitalism. In 1961 he predicted that communism was on the verge of triumphing economically over capitalism. ''We will bury you,'' he growled. Nikita also predicted that manual labor would vanish from his country by the end of the 1960 s, when the Soviet Union would surpass the United States in per capita output. There are those who consider Mr. Khrushchev the greatest stand-up comic of modern times.

And take salt. Or don't take salt. I can't remember what I'm supposed to do anymore.

I sold my land and bought some property smack dab on the beach. I figure that if half the experts predict that the seas will rise and the other half say they're going to recede, the water isn't going anywhere fast.

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