Why Trust the Experts? by Lipton Matthews

Just because someone is smart, or has impressive credentials, doesn’t mean he or she is always right. People should be far more skeptical of expert proclamations. From Lipton Matthews at mises.org:

It has now become commonplace to accuse anyone who opposes covid lockdowns of being “antiscience.” This sort of treatment persists even when published scientific studies suggest the usual prolockdown narrative is wrong. support the antilockdown position.

There are sociological, economic, and cultural reasons why experts will take the politically popular position, even when the actual scientific evidence is weak or nonexistent.

Experts Are Biased and Are Self-Interested like Everyone Else

Though we are often encouraged to listen to experts because of their intelligence and expertise, there is a strong case for us to be skeptical of their pronouncements.

Beliefs serve a social function by indicating one’s position in society. Hence to preserve their status in elite circles, highly educated experts may subscribe to incorrect positions, since doing do so can confer benefits. Refusing to hold a politically popular viewpoint could damage one’s career. And since upper-class professionals are more invested in acquiring status than working people, we should not expect them to jettison incorrect beliefs in the name of pursuing truth. Cancel culture has taught us that promoting the world view of the elite is more important than truth to decision makers.

So why should we listen to experts when they give greater primacy to appeasing elites than solving national problems? In contrast to what some would want you to believe—revolting against experts is not an attack on science, considering that little evidence suggests that they care about scientific truth. Let us not fool ourselves. People occupying powerful offices are uninterested in being toppled from positions of influence, and as such, they will seek to minimize views that threaten their professional or intellectual authority. As a result, expecting influential bureaucrats to value truth is unwise. Truth to a bureaucrat is merely the consensus of the intelligentsia at any given time.

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