What is an expert?

(BTW, read think tanks, other than Brookings, as Republican, where as Brookings is not necessarily for the Democratic party, just liberal leaning)

My question: Why have experts, if no one will listen? (recall the 6 of 7 previous apsa presidents and 500 scholars–I bring this up, because apparently the academic consensus, based on the above quote, could even be made to look more air tight than the 500 scholars and presidents?) What happens to the term expert?

Why do you seem to assume that “expert” should equate to “academic”? Or am I missing something?

“An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.” :stuck_out_tongue:

An expert is like a farmer. You know, anybody who is out standing in his field.

An expert is someone at least 50 miles from his home.

You won’t accept the opinion of someone you know and dislike although that individual may be knowledgable about the subject, but you will often accept hook, line and sinker a view of someone you don’t know who is even less knowledgable than yourself.

Uh, the quote you gave said that experts’ advice is mixed. Academic experts advise against the war; policy experts advise for it. Policy makers tend to listen to experts who affirm the official’s own bias. For example, Dick Cheney famously cited his “we’ll be welcomed as liberators” comment as belonging to a Iraqi professor living in the United States. I’m sure that comment helped convince some people that the war would be quick and easy.

And yes, experts can be wrong.

you have a curious inconsistency here that supports your proposition. First you say policy experts, as if that is a domain of expertise. Then you mention policy makers who tend to listen to experts. So you are NOT saying that policy makers are experts, right? btw, where do YOUR experts come from?

The second part in that sentence, “who affirm the official’s own bias” has a problem as well. When you seek out the expertise of the idea you are proposing, I think that you are not proposing an expert opinion, but one side of an expert opinion, hence, the advice is not really mixed, but having the illusion of being mixed, no?

Academics at least pay heed to the psychological processes of bias as it is part of the scientific methodology to account for bias, not always, but certaintly to a far greater degree than in think tanks and governmental agencies. So, we have one opinion from an authority with integrity and opinions from dubious sources of authority. I think that we need to be careful to not be creating a whole realm of ‘expert’ opinion that is actually financed by one party exclusively. And with ‘think tanks’ and pundit media, I think we are beginning to compare apples and oranges.

If the discussion where about experts, I think it would begin with what their objectives were, since their outcomes will most often be derived from what their goals are. i.e., looking for truth has a much better chance of finding truth than looking for something that supports your conclusions (though of course, bias is a very challenging thing, even for those who respect it). though experts/authorities can and will be wrong, I’ll take their methodology over the typical Republican think tank or Democratic policy talking head anytime. I guess that sums up my feelings about experts. Especially when you are talking about a REAL consensus rather than a fabricated one.

Since it was not my original intent to debate the various credentials of our intelligencia, I think I’ll just rephrase my question. Why do we appear to be ignoring the general expert opinion of academics? Should we not be worried about this.

this is absolutely not always the case. It does seem however, like a fair statment to say that the bulk of our authoritative knowledge derives from the academic realm. If this is not agreed upon, I think that we have a problem. What, then, makes an expert or an authority in a given field. experts should be nearly synonymous with authority, and authors generally have to study a subject intensly and even minutely. This mostly happens in universities where clusters of people gather who study the minutea. Experts, or at least the type that I refer to, take integrity and rigor toward the final goal of the truth as their main goal. Those, of course, would be the good ones. Pundits, government representatives, do not share the same type of rigor.

You wouldn’t equate expert with think tank would you? You are aware of the tight integration of think tanks with the Rep party? There are also far more universities than think tanks and each university has far more depth and expertise in many areas than does one, even well funded think tank.

Even if they were not as biased as it appears they are, you’d have the problem of numerical superiority. For example, how many ‘experts’ on the middle east do you have in universities, compared to in think tanks (actually, if you watch the news, you’d think it was disproportionately in the favor of think tanks). Being that there are more potential authorities in universities compared to think tanks, it seems as if it would be a logical conclusion that there would be a greater probability statistically of there being a greater chance of more experts coming from universities.

What other groups or institutions would you consider to be significant in terms of a body that studies things intensly, who pour over reams of information, have high standards of integrity and objectivity, and basically make as their life’s work, the study of a particular discipline?

Anyway, your question does highlight a very important question. What do we consider to be our authorities and why. When we have that answer, we would then know what the standards for authority are. When we know that, we may not be so easily led astray when someone puts on the trimmings of authority, for the benefit of political entities, when in actuality, they are a second rate hack.

This jibes with my experience.

“An expert is someone who doesn’t work for your company.”

It’s based on the habit so many firms have of not believing in their own internal people (who have the most knowledge of the situation) and instead spending enormous amounts of resources hiring ‘outside experts’ to say what the internal people would have said for their paychecks.

That sounds pretty true. But I think we are getting away from the intent of my post, which is to understand if the ‘authorities’ that we have, have any. I think that simply stating that experts are bunk misses the point. We have authorities for a reason. Many of them have led us into the direction we are sitting now. Our present consciousness in the world is largely a result of those authors of truth (and falsity as well). It is very much a part of the ‘modern’ experience.

Are the authors in acadamia being overshadowed by psuedo authors in think tanks and other places (not that there aren’t some outstanding minds in these places, just that many of them have become highly politicized simply as a counter to the so called ‘liberal’ establishments of media and acadamia. So my fear is that we are developing a psuedo-acadamia. And a few of the responses to this question are leading me to believe that this HAS become the case).