Quote of the Day

The thing that changed recently is our growing understanding that we’ve all been duped by “experts” multiple times on multiple topics. It isn’t a “one side is bad” problem.

Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays)
Tweeted on March 13, 2022

Of all the ways to determine truth from falsity, total relance upon experts is one of the worst. This particularly true if it is a government expert.


6 thoughts on “Experts

  1. DR: It’s important that you don’t “do your own research” as I went to medical school and you didn’t.
    MS: But I got my degree in operations research specializing in design-of-experiments.
    DR: What difference does that make?
    MS: It means that if you show me a medical study, I can explain it to you.

  2. Experts know some things. Not everything. They often lack the ability to place their research and its scope into the “big picture” properly (whatever they are interested in tends to seem more important than it actually is). They often have some theory they would desperately like to prove, which may or may not actually be correct. They may or may not have a good handle on the limitations of any models they have developed. A lot if them are very enthusiastic but lack a certain element of common sense.

    It’s not that they are wrong or overconfident. It’s that they tend to work out near the edges of what is actually well understood. So if they have some advice listen, but understand you probably still have to prove it out and it may not work quite as advertised.

    This of course totally ignores the fact that expertise has limits, and experts sometimes don’t have a good handle on where their expertise actually ends.

    And then there are a whole lot of “non-experts” who are pretty damned smart themselves who got trampled over as the experts rose to prominence, which can happen for a lot of reasons but a lack of political acuity (or refusal to play the game) often plays a role. Sometimes it’s because they were just plain wrong—but by no means is this always the case.

    Sometimes people become “experts” because they are acclaimed, but the acclaim comes because they tell people what they want to hear. Sometimes they get that way because they are really, really good at what they do.

    Sometimes if you ask 5 experts you will get 10 different opinions.

    • Thank you. That was great. And something else is about making a living.
      Following the science will many times lead you to the money. And vice-versa.
      No where in recent times have we seen this more than Ivermectin and covid. The experts were clearly willing to murder people for money. Or for nothing more than per-reviewed acceptance.
      But then again, in a tech rich society, how does one live without them?
      I guess we now have the added fun of trying to figure out which ones want us dead.
      Interesting times to say the least.

    • In which you prove the superiority of prose over tweets. We do need experts but they have their limitations, as you say. We need to be smart enough to discern those limits.

    • The average “expert” is a button counting bottle washer. Especially if they’re a government employee. I know. I used to work for the government in the DC area.

      How does one square the idea of “credentialed expert” with the precipitous decline in the value (not the cost) of a college education?

  3. Proof that relies on “Experts say” is one of the original logical fallacies from ancient times. This is nothing new, but the number of voters who rely on experts to tell them more than the weather outside and whether to wear a sweater or bring an umbrella is staggering.

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