Incoherence of the Non-expert Experts

Over at the Acton Institute there is an article on that economics is for everybody. I think Mr. Chang is dead wrong, because a great many people have all sort of uneducated views and opinions on economics. I think the Occupy Wall Street movement demonstrates that and any brief stint on Facebook will find as much about economics as politics and religion.

However, that aside what caught my attention was this quote: “Chang argues that we shouldn’t rely on experts to tell us what is true about economics (because they probably don’t know) but instead rely on our own commonsense to help us make sense of a complicated world.” As a disclaimer I didn’t watch the video, because I was more interested in this concept than the video.

The notion is people claiming that we should not listen to experts because they’re probably wrong any way. I heard this similar view by a finance guy saying all the experts on Wall Street were BS-ing but he’d give you the real lowdown on Wall Street. The incoherence of this is that they are proposing an authoritative opinion that authoritative opinions are of no consequence. It is saying, “Listen to me because I’m an expert on the experts and the experts are full of it.” Even my common sense is developed through time with interactions and training from more or less experts, the first being my parents.

The path of reality is to test everything and hold on to the good. We need experts because we can’t know everything and as children we know nothing. However, every human authority is more or less limited and bound by Original Sin.

As children we more or less rely on the authority and knowledge of our parents. As we grow and develop we must discern the truth for ourselves by coming to understand the demonstrations and premises that our parents relied on and perhaps deeper ones. Even then we still rely on the expertise and authority of others. This requires discernment, thoughtfulness and willingness to except we may err. I relied on my professors in physics when I studied even as I tried to understand their reasoning, but ultimately I found that I erred in placing my trust in their expertise, partially because they went beyond the bounds of their own knowledge and authority.

I think this is an instance of the rejection of the messiness of authority that constitutes much of liberalism.

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