What is an Expert?


I watched with interest today Governor Little’s Press conference in which he declared that we would stay in phase 4 of our mitigation strategy for the next 2 weeks. During the Q&A it was implied that he had surrounded himself with experts, and other voices in the community were being listened to and this caused angst and disappointment—especially in the business community At that point I came to realize that our governor after 6 months has little insight into the process of managing the pandemic or to the limitations inherent of what I call horizontally integrated governance. I am sure our governor is a good man and well meaning. Dr. Hahn is an expert and I am proud of her contribution to the task force. But what is an “expert”? An expert is someone who knows a great amount about a small slice of the world, and most experts fail to see how their small sliver of the pie relates to the rest of the world. This in the end relates back to one’s ideas of political philosophy, what informs those ideas, and how they relate to reality.

The idea of how knowledge and how experts apply a method to harnessing knowledge goes back at least as far as the arguments between Plato and Aristotle regarding “forms”—Plato’s Universal forms, and Aristotelian concepts “each instance or process being analyzed on its own terms.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

In 2010 Thomas Sowell wrote a book Entitled INTELLECTUALS AND SOCIETY. He defined two types knowledge one practiced by “idea workers” who exert profound influence on public policy but as third parties they are never held accountable for the results of their theories. The second form of knowledge is practical everyday knowledge.

In 1945 in an essay entitled THE USE OF KNOWLEDGE IN SOCIETY Friedrich Hayek likewise described “special or scientific knowledge. By this he meant theoretical or special expertise, and the other form of knowledge was unorganized knowledge which would be knowledge of particular circumstances. Jonah Goldberg has described knowledge as being special (expert) and mundane (practical). With respect to the second types of knowledge Hayek stated: “Practically every individual has advantage over others regarding some realm of their world—especially the experts—who have the least amount of knowledge about the world outside their own little sector.” It is said that in his later years Einstein had an epiphany while walking through the stacks and rows of thousands of books in the Princeton library. He realized at that moment that he knew very little of the knowledge of the world. What Hayek and Sowell were explaining was the overall problem with centrally planned economies or governance. No matter how smart the people are in charge, they cannot possibly know the circumstances that everyday people are operating under. The danger of such thinking is that there has been a transfer of decision making from our elected leaders to “experts or intellectuals”. There is no “agency” relationship between these experts and the people and by deferring to them instead of conferring with them our elected officials are saying to We The People that the experts know better about what is good for us than we do. The press, academics, unelected government bureaucrats are arrogant and myopic when applying this type of logic

Thomas Sowell has further stated that “The locus of decision making has drifted away from the individual, the family, voluntary organizations (the church) and toward government. And within government it has moved away from elected officials and toward insulated government institutions”

Dr. Hahn is doing her job as a Public Health Specialist. The Governor is too busy deferring and not busy enough conferring. Individuals, families, businesses are hurting in our State. Context and texture need to be applied to the science. That is the job of our Governor and elected officials. And our Governor doesn’t even understand that. Deferring allows for excuses. Deferring passes the buck. Alibies destroy character.

Below is the recent public health data: It is not hard to read and everyday people can understand and make their own decisions about how to deal with this virus. But please look at the data. We were told that we were going to flatten the curve so the resources would not be depleted—human resources, vents/ PPE etc. We have more than done this. On March 19th it was reported that in Idaho we had 3000/500 hospital and ICU beds. That number for some reason has been almost cut in half when reading DHW data, but even then we have not come even close to stressing the system statewide or locally.

Decide for yourself. We The People are smarter than any government agency or bureaucrat. Even (especially) our good governor.

Don't use Facebook? More commenting options below (scroll down)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *