A couple of months ago, I was shopping for children’s pain reliever at 3:00am.  One bottle I looked at boldly exclaimed “Designed by a Teacher!”  I immediately put this back.

This is my kid we’re talking about here.  I want medicine designed by doctors, pharmacists, and other medical experts.  And yet someone, somewhere, decided that “Designed by a Teacher” was good marketing for a medicine, and it is probably successful.

We see this a lot.  “Designed by a Mom” is a very common marketing ploy.  What if the “Mom” was Joan Crawford?  Being a Mom probably qualifies you for some things, but not Engineering, Law, Medicine, Acting etc.  Not unless she’d had the specific training.

I see politicians employ experts when they agree with them, then ten minutes later refer to the opponent’s experts with finger quotes.  ‘Her experts are too smart and out of touch with regular people, but you should believe my experts.’

You should always believe the experts.  Sometimes they will disagree, so go with the majority opinion.  In the vast number of cases though, the split will be 99-1 or even higher, making it easy to choose which side to follow.  If there is not a lopsided majority opinion, then don’t form your own.  Just wait.  I remember when plate tectonics was a 50-50 split.*

Anthropomorphic (man-made) climate change (ACC) is a tough topic.  Here the consensus is about 97-2-1 for it being true, false, and unsure.  The problem here is that being an expert in climate does not also make you an expert in manufacturing, agriculture, and any of the other things that can contribute to climate change.  Who exactly, constitutes an expert?  (Certainly not these people: electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, medical degrees, etc.)

Recently, a group of researchers at Stanford University examined the publications of 1372 climate researchers.   The names were taken from scientific conferences, global political summits, and even petitions. Researchers’ expertise was ranked by the number of papers they authored or co-authored.  Prominence was rated by how many people cited a researcher’s paper.  Science works kinda like google— the more links to your web site, the higher your google ranking.  In this case better researchers have more people citing their work.  Poor researchers have few people citing their work.  We now have two methods of telling who the experts are.

And they aren’t the ACC deniers.  The above paper is very easy to read (Yes, it truly is!)  They thought of everything, and compensated for possible abnormalities, and yet still 97-98% of the experts believe in ACC.

It is not possible for me to get a degree in pharmacy, just so I can design and manufacture a pain reliever for my child.  Similarly, I can’t study weather and climate for 4-6 years just to have an opinion on ACC.  In both cases, I need to rely on experts.

From the main stream media, it sounds like opinion on ACC is a 50-50 split amongst the experts.  You don’t have to do the research yourself, but you do need to seek out what the majority expert opinions is.  Question everything- question me.  Only this way can your opinions become stronger.

Share your stories of experts being denounced when they don’t agree with a personal bias in the comments!


*As a side note, one of the things that totally disgusts me about science journalism is that they present the 99% and 1% with equal time, thereby implying a 50-50 split when there is none.  The law of evolution is a classic case of this.  99.999-0.001 is presented as a “controversy” with each side given equal weight.

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One Response to Experts

  1. me says:

    expert – anyone more than 50 miles from home and carrying a briefcase

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