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Discussion > What Have Experts Ever Done.

Having seen Future Babble recommended by Lubos Motl and seeing "wrongology" as a possible catch phrase that describes analysis of past predictions from left and right as historically mostly wrong. Will anyone ever feel comfortable knowing there is no knowing?

No God, no omnipotent talking head to explain it all, just trust in your fellow man?

Is that enough?

Mar 30, 2011 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement


Ronald Reagan got it right when he said "Trust, but verify". Too many climate scientists seem to expect the first part but fail badly on the second. The rest probably branches off into psychology and sociology. People often aren't happy with uncertainty, but personally I'm not sure about that.

Mar 31, 2011 at 1:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

@Atomic Hairdryer

Mmmm. "No". Is not a valid answer to my question because heuristics says it isn't.

But thanks for making me think further.

I liked your reference to Reagan and the joke about being sure about uncertainty.

If I could rephrase I would say "How fat is the bogus expert commodity in human expenditure?"

Expertise is "fat" in all realms not just public sector or Government.

It is like an obesity epidemic that creates the claims of (possible) real human physical obesity epidemics.

We have an undeniable obese bogus expert epidemic!

Apr 3, 2011 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Too fat!

I think this touches on most aspects of business and politics, and is why we have a booming services economy. Politics seems to have become a career in itself rather than public service after having some kind of career. So we seem to end up with young, inexperienced politicians. They're expected to make policy or take decisions on subjects they often have zero knowledge about, ie Huhne and energy policy, so may rely on 'experts' for advice. If those experts aren't honest brokers, then it's easy to con the politicians.

Same is true in business. Execs hire in consultants to make decisions for them. Makes sense if that's expertise the company doesn't have in-house, but less so if not. It can provide a second opinion though, or just someone to blame if things don't work out. If someone is uncertain about a decision, outsourcing that can be a psychological crutch. If they do it frequently, it should raise questions about whether the executives are really leaders though.

Bogus experts seem rife though, whether that's the green lobby groups advising government or businesses. Worst example I saw was a big consultancy taking work originally produced by our own product developers and trying to sell it back to us as their work. They didn't even bother changing diagrams or text, added nothing orignal other than formatting and threatened to sue us for non-payment for that work.

For the climate wars, we get all of the above with the IPCC. The UN and the EU want revenues so they can grow. They create the IPCC to justify fiscal and social policy. The IPCC keeps going because it keeps giving the customer the answers they want. The lobby and special interest groups are all over the IPCC because it helps their cause and profits, for example the billions the WWF would make from REDD. UN, EU and civil servants love the idea because climate policies allow them to expand their empires

But bureaucracy is like a cancer. If you aren't careful and catch it in time, it starves the host of resources and kills it unless it's killed off or excised. Problem is this cancer's metastasised and spread. LDN's love it because they can get billions in subsidies or supposed compensation. Green groups are adivising the LDN's and using them as proxies to get their policies advanced.

Meanwhile, we sceptics watch in amazement at all these billion dollar boondoggles that'll redistribute wealth, but often rather vague about where that money will come from, or what real benefit it'll create for anyone other than the bureaucrats, NGO's, LDN's or various middle men. Nice example is the EPA. They no doubt love the idea of toxic CO2 because then they can regulate pretty much every human activity, which means more money for the EPA. Consultants love it because they can then bill more to help organisations like the EPA spend their money.

Conflicts of interest abound. Here, I think one of the best examples is our Carbon Trust. A quango funded via ROCs, now busy using that money to build more wind turbines to help it expand. Somehow, I can't see the Carbon Trust ever criticising the cost of renewables when it benefits so much from those subsidies.

Apr 4, 2011 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

There has to be an acceptance of human nature and that flab in expertise will almost always being accepted in human endeavours ever since the witch doctor enhanced the placebo effect.

I can accept the metaphor of cancer in a totalitarian state, like the regimes toppling in the Arab world. One thing to remember about that fact we are in war today in Libya is that it was kicked off by one young man who could not get work and was denied free trade by red tape from an unproductive elite and so he set fire to himself in the ultimate protest of frustration.

I still feel hope for our modern connected world, and would say that the redundant expert class today is more like a build up of barnacles on the bottom of the ship, slowing it down.
Whenever anyone threatens to put the ship into dry dock for scraping, this gets vehemently fought against. When the ship gets truly low in the water I think we will find out through which porthole the rats leave from (way to mix metaphors!)

Yes you listed a lot of the barnacles building up :)

Apr 5, 2011 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Sic et Non

Things may well get a whole lot worse, with much less than before;
but, on the other hand, they might improve a bit, with more.
The planet’s coolth or warmth could sway, but awfully, we fear;
and Armageddon might be nigh, or maybe not so near.
Whatever happens to the seas—they’ll surely rise or fall—,
we climate scientists declare, “Our models forecast all!”

Apr 6, 2011 at 11:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDeadman