“But Expertise”

An angelology of experts ought to guide our scientific opinions.



[JANITOR] I taught mathematical modelling to some of these climate numpties (at a top university) & never have I met such a bunch of careerist conformist mediocrities.

[STEVEM] Is [Greta] the chief economist? After she goes and studies economics in college, she can go back and explain that to us.

[JUDY] There is ‘primary’ expertise, related to creating new knowledge on a topic. Then there is ‘auditing’ expertise, whereby someone can critically evaluate new knowledge, publications etc. […] And finally there is ‘synthetic’ expertise, whereby someone has demonstrated ability to interpret, synthesize and assess research/knowledge in a broader context. It is synthetic expertise that is most badly needed for a complex problem such as climate change.

Objections and Replies

(Superforecasters) Has this guy ever heard of Philip Tetlock

Reply. The first conclusion one should take from Philip’s work on expert opinion is to disregard it.


{Authority} Stating credentials and experience is usually how people claim or defer to authority. Appealing to tradition does not rebut the claim that establishing relevant background and qualifications functions as an appeal to authority. There’s nothing wrong with that per se. The same argument about expertise applies to authority.

{Defeasibility} Expertise is just a specific kind of authority. The converse may not be true. As long as you admit that what you propose is defeasible (i.e. authority or expertise does not imply the bearer’s right, after all), then the argument is eo ipso invalid.

{Fallacy Fluff} One does not simply dismiss an argument as soon as it’s being recognized as being an appeal to an authority anymore. If you want to see what commenting without carrying your own authority looks like, try to comment without using your real name.