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.