The trouble with experts
The trouble with experts is that experts are not exactly what they project themselves to be and/or what we expect them to be. They are not the all knowing trustworthy people we can rely on for good advice and answers to vexing questions. They are mere salesmen and promoters of their currently held beliefs. New ideas are dangerous for them and they will fight new ideas to protect the old ideas that are the basis for their expertise.
An analysis of experts and expertise and the reasons why tax experts cannot be expected to recognize a brilliant new system of taxation when they see it.
What is expertise all about?
Expertise is all about belief and faith, not about absolute truths or logical analysis. Experts in all fields of expertise collect information and learn about many aspects of their chosen field of expertise. They draw conclusions and form beliefs about the information they have learned. They compare their beliefs with the beliefs of their expert colleagues and come to agree about a majority opinion that they have the most faith in. The majority belief that then is adopted by most experts becomes the faith that embodies their expertise. Experts are the high priests of their faith and are the defenders of their beliefs and faith against anything that differs with and challenges their expert beliefs. Anything new and any new ideas that challenge their faith will be attacked by experts. Whether the new ideas are good or bad, experts will violently attack them or ridicule them and dismiss them as nonsense.
Like everyone else, experts know little or nothing about new ideas. New ideas naturally conflict with their beliefs. Experts should never be consulted about new ideas because they will swiftly dismiss new ideas as nonsense and often will ridicule them as well.
What benefit are experts for society?
Experts are indispensable. They have a very important role to play in society. Humans are risk averse and are very uncomfortable with uncertainty. Experts are purveyors of certainty. We have great difficulty in doing things that we are uncertain about. Experts give us that vital extra reinforcement of faith to feel good about what we are doing or are planning to do. To overcome lack of certainty people would have to take responsibility for possible risks and failure. Humans hate to take responsibility for anything and have great fear of failure. That is the reason why all businesses that take responsibility and risk out of things for people are the biggest businesses in the World. People do not want to take responsibility for loss or damage, the huge insurance industry will take that burden off their shoulders at a very high price. People do not want to take responsibility for their own health, the huge healthcare (illnesscare) industry promises to take care of their health. People do not want the responsibility for their own beliefs and decisions and they defer the responsibility to experts and organized religion. When people have to take any responsibility for making decisions about things that carry risk for failure, they consult experts. When the United States was a young country it was a country of risk takers and people who where glad to take responsibility. It was the "Land of the Brave" and it was full of people with strong character and lots of initiative. Today the United States is a land of lawyers that have persuaded the majority of the population that people are responsible for nothing and that manufacturers and service providers are responsible for everything. The government allows the people to go along with the ambulance chasing lawyers and sue the manufacturers out of business and then they complain that all the jobs have moved to China and that the Chinese people are at fault for our economic woes. What's left is the "Land of the Wimps and the risk averse" with poorly educated irresponsible whiners that have little initiative and no courage to make any decisions without experts to back them up. We need to turn that around. China is not our problem, we are our own problem.
Experts protect society from disasters
Experts unwittingly perform another important service to society. New ideas in all fields of expertise follow the Pareto 80-20 Principle. Most likely 80% of new ideas are bad ideas and only 20% are good and some are even brilliant. When people are confronted with new ideas they do not want to become responsible for making a mistake and therefore they will consult experts who swiftly will tell them that the new idea must be bad or wrong because it conflicts with their expert beliefs. In advising against 100% of new ideas experts protect us from the 80% bad ideas, but of course they deprive us from the 20% good ideas as well. And if those 20% good ideas are really as good as they claim to be, they will survive the 20 years or so that it will take for the experts to finally accept them as their new belief. Maybe some of those ideas are so excellent that they will eliminate the need for expertise and belief all together. They might be those few brilliant ideas that represent absolute unassailable truth that will last forever and never changes anymore.
Most expertise is flawed
That sounds outrageous but is logically completely true. We know from experience and from history that all fields of expert belief are in constant flux. Established beliefs are constantly challenged and modified and often displaced by new ideas and beliefs. Only on very rare occasions will certain beliefs be ultimately replaced by new ideas that turn out to be absolute truth. Absolute truth tends to be simple in concept and easy to understand. An absolute truth has been found when all ordinary non-expert people know, understand and accept such ultimate truth. All debate and disagreement about questionable truth will come to an end because absolute truth is difficult to challenge. In fact experts are no longer needed in fields of knowledge in which absolute truth has been established and accepted by most or all, because absolutes are often simple and not too difficult to understand. "Simplicity is the mother of truth" (Dutch proverb: "Eenvoud is de moeder van de waarheid"). At that point experts are no longer needed to strengthen and support half-truth or un-truth. Since experts are no longer needed in fields of knowledge where absolutes have been established, they gradually fade away because there are no longer minds to be had that are in need of support for faith in half truths or untruths and there is no longer money to be made or fame to be had from half baked ideas that are promoted by experts..
Experts are most likely consulted over 90% of the time about ideas that are already part of their expert body of knowledge and beliefs. Only 10% of the time are they asked to pass judgment on brand new ideas. They will be able to give swift responses on questions about the 90% subject matter that they have formed themselves an opinion about.
Experts know little about new ideas.
Experts, like everyone else, know little or nothing about the 10% of brand new, little studied or unstudied ideas. Unstudied and little studied ideas are most likely following Pareto's 80/20 Principle in that they are 80% bad or useless ideas and only 20% ranging from good to brilliant ideas. This means statistically, that of the 10% brand new ideas that experts are questioned about, 8% are useless and only 2% have merit. Experts use the same two very practical but totally illogical methods that normal mortals use to determine whether ideas are true or false, good or bad. They compare a new idea against their knowledge and beliefs and if the idea is in conflict with what they know and believe, they classify it as false. To be fair, and to give the idea a second chance, they might consult other experts about the new idea to see what those experts think about it. The majority of other experts will come to the same conclusion based upon their giving it the same litmus test of comparing it against their knowledge and beliefs. It is the rare expert who will say: "Wait a minute here, I have never heard about this new idea. I have no knowledge about it and I need some time to give it some serious thought, after which I will be able to give you a reasoned and comprehensive answer." That would be a rare expert indeed. Most experts have developed a degree of arrogance that gives them license to pass very strong and pertinent judgment on things they know absolutely nothing about.
An impressive 98% track record.
Experts easily attain an impressive 98% track record of being correct. The 90% of questions they answer about ideas familiar to them result already in 90% correct answers. By quickly dismissing the 10% of brand new ideas as bad or useless gives them another 8% while the 2% good and brilliant ideas bite the dust for a few years or longer.
Masters of Minutia
The reality is that without experts the World would be a much more dangerous place, because experts protect mankind from jumping too quickly onto brand new ideas, 80% of which are useless or plain dangerous. Experts generally say "NO" to everything that is not part of their body of expert knowledge and beliefs. Their 98% track record of being right persuades them into the arrogant belief that their body of expert beliefs is failsafe. It is totally false reasoning in that they want to simply validate or invalidate ideas by testing them against their expert knowledge and beliefs. All things new and all new ideas must obviously be different from what experts know and believe in, else they would not be NEW. Mediocre new ideas that tend to stray little from established expert knowledge are often only tinkering diversions from established ideas. Those tinkered ideas are more acceptable to experts and are more likely to be included into their accepted ideas because they do not challenge their beliefs too much. A lot of these tweaked and tinkered details of old ideas are the creations of experts themselves who write papers and publish whole books on these minutia. They present their ideas during conferences and other gatherings of their colleague experts and those minutia are received with lots of approval and head nodding because they are the product of the trusted sources, the other experts. This way a lot of drivel enters into their body of expertise and muddies up the waters of their specialty expertise. That is how laws are made, by committee. Everybody tinkering with it and eventually winding up with garbage like the 17,000 page United States tax code.
The source of brilliant new ideas
Brilliant new ideas will not likely sprout from the minds of mainstream experts. It will be a rare expert who will dare to oppose the whole fraternity of experts by declaring that everything they believe in is wrong and false and that it should all be swept aside in favor of bright new and simple ideas. There are a few such daring experts, but they are soon declared heretics and even lunatics and they swiftly lose all standing in their expert circles. Most really brilliant new ideas sprout from the minds of people with a reasonable level of intelligence who are not associated with a fraternity of experts or hamstrung by prevailing dogmas of those fraternities.
Who should evaluate new ideas?
New ideas in any field of knowledge can be best evaluated by normal average people who have some general knowledge but definitely no expert beliefs in that field of knowledge. Expert beliefs would predispose them to biased prejudice against anything that conflicts with the expert knowledge. A good set of brains helps and a sprinkling of reason and logic will go a far way to be able to judge 80% of new ideas as bad and 20% of new ideas as good or brilliant. If you have what it takes, then you will come out with a 20% better batting average than experts who will most often declare 100% of new ideas as bad or useless.
Experts deprive us of brilliant ideas
Experts are the least likely but should be the best suited to identify and judge the validity of brilliant new ideas. As a society we have no choice better than experts to evaluate new ideas. These rare brilliant ideas are the most likely ones to get the swift ax and often are ridiculed with illogical expert arguments such as: "If this idea would be valid, it would invalidate everything there is known about this (subject matter). It would invalidate everything Nobel Prize winning Professor so-and-so has to say about it and all University Studies from (a long list of Universities follows) and all books and papers written by Professors so-and-so (a long list follows)." The only hope for new brilliant ideas is to beg experts to set aside their misplaced arrogance when judging ideas that are truly new and stray far from their comfortable expert body of belief and knowledge. We need the kind of experts that come out of their ivory towers down to Earth to give new ideas the proper attention they deserve. If after that these experts deem an idea useless or bad, then more weight can be given to their judgment.
The only hope for good new ideas
The only hope for good new ideas to be blessed by experts is if experts were to realize that they have no expertise on new ideas. New ideas cannot be dealt with in the same manner as ideas and questions on which they have expertise. Knowledge cannot be applied to new ideas because there is not as yet knowledge available. To get knowledge about new ideas reason must be applied. If expert knowledge was acquired from information that was not factual or incorrectly perceived or it was erroneously interpreted, then judgments reached will not be valid. To achieve validity, reason based on factual information must be utilized as the basis for making reevaluations of past judgments and to evaluate new insights and ideas to reach new judgments. If experts were to set aside their arrogance and take a much more objective approach in their evaluations of NEW ideas, then mankind and the economy would be benefiting from their expertise. This is assuming those experts have reasoning abilities. The support of experts is almost indispensable for good and brilliant new ideas to overcome the reluctance of the general public to adopt new ideas.
Experts are good and bad
To have a closer look at the good and the bad of "expertise" I will assemble a few of the best examples of how experts fail us. the public, with the selling of their expertise that we have so much misplaced faith in. Check back from time to time. This is a work in progress.