15 October 2008

All experts stuff up.

And I am an expert at criticism ...

Eric Falkenstein has again given us some gristle to chew on:

"The sad fact is that experts are often more wrong on facts in their field than the average person. They are able to create a highly scientific rationale for their belief, and deflect criticism from 'conventional wisdom' because most people with mere common sense do not follow the academic protocol of the field that sets the standard for accepted expert opinion."

After what we have all been through recently; with economists and market analysts being made fools of by financial markets and with scientists and environmentalists looking sillier by the year when the planet openly defies their decrees to heat up; this is a very appealing observation. The items of evidence that Falkenstein offers for this proposition are illuminating ...
And I will store them up here, for my own future reference:

Anthropologist, Elizabeth Thomas, acclaimed author on prehistoric cultures ("Harmless People" 1959) , getting it completely wrong, expertly declaring that, notwithstanding our ignorant prejudices against the natives, hunter gatherers lived lives of peace and co-operation, without war. More recent experts like Lawrence Keeley suggest that homicide rates per capita for pre-lapsarian primitives were much higher than those in civilized societies. Who are we to believe?

Sex experts telling us in the 70s that we are all to a large degree bi-sexual, when our own intuition and experience suggested that most us have pretty pronounced gender preferences regarding sex. Well who was right about this, we rubes or the experts? (I fancied the inference that these sex experts had secumbed to wishful thinking; there's a bit of that about in sex.)

Dietitians with many degrees and multiple publications in peer reviewed journals, fatuously formenting a fatwa against fat as a first order factor in fatness. But now the much derided populist Atkin's hypothesis that carbs are the main enemy of weight loss, looks like it is closer to the truth than the academicians' pronoucements.

Doctors and the American Medical Association declaring that steroids had no effect on athletic performance. Pure Gold.

Psychologists suggesting that delinquency was caused by a lack of self esteem. It seems now that it is an excess of self worth that is our major worry from these folk.

I will try to remember to add to this list from time to time. It could be fun. I'll start though with another recent event: Paul Krugman, the intemperate economic opinion writer and Democrat Party shill at the New York Times, has just been awarded the Nobel prize for "economic science". What is it with these Scandinavian scolds in recent times?

First the Norwegians give the 2007 Peace prize to Albert Gore junior and the IPCC for their raising of awareness about climate change(Peace is such an inconvenient title).

Then the head guy at the Swedish Nobel literature institute comes out in September this year and tells us all that Americans are too insular to write sophisticated enough fiction for a Nobel prize. These people are really trying hard to reposition the objectivity credentials of the Nobel brand with this kind of manipulation of their mandate and PR spin.

And now they give an economic Nobel to an openly partisan liberal media commentator, weeks out from a US Presidential election!

I guess it's just a sophisticated post modern resignation to the inevitable: "what's the use of having a reputation for objective impartiality unless you can use that reputation to influence events towards your desired objectives"? Ruling elites always culturally skew towards self perpetuation anyway, so why be coy about it?

No wonder respect for expertise is no longer quite what it used to be. These dynamite endowed melancholics from the hydrocarbon rich Arctic's edge, again demonstrate by their selection, all the passion and sense of entitlement of oil rich sheiks choosing new wives for their harem.

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