How reliable are experts?

One thought on “How reliable are experts?

  1. Expert opinion is always worth using as a starting point, although Richard Dawkins regularly slams the argument from authority (without back up test evidence) in his conflicts with religious fundamentalists. Yet I like too particular comments (one sensible and one flippant) about experts.

    The great Harvard biologist E.O.Wilson wrote in “Consilience” that “I must always remember that I could be wrong”. My old boss in the late 1970’s had a wonderfully warped sense of humour and said an expert is a combination of an ex (i.e. a has-been) and a spurt (a drip under pressure).

    Frivolity aside, perhaps it is worth remembering the dangers of over-confidence in any area and that there are often exceptions to seeemingly clear cut rules. Anyone stating “I know I’m right” or even “You know you’re wrong” should set the alarm bells ringing. “I think this is true because …. but can you show me something new” is much more like it.

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