The Death of Expertise

Is expertise really dead? Well, at the least it has certainly changed. People defer less to experts, which is a mixed bag. If I had a dollar for everyone who said something in this format, “I am no scientist [or some other area of specialized knowledge], but I know that …[followed by something that contradicts the consensus of knowledge in that field]”, I would be quite comfortable. I’m of two minds here. On the one hands, experts are useful and are more often right. So we need and should trust them. But experts also are often arrogant, ignore uncertainties, are subject to groupthink, and extend their authority beyond their area of expertise. So we should be skeptical. In the modern world, the internet makes the problem more severe. Anyone can just do a search and learn almost anything (even things that are completely untrue). And without expertise, sorting all the “facts” is very difficult.

The same thing applies to theological and religious issues, I think. Perhaps not in the same way, but I think the same dynamics are at work. Beware!


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