The expert thread

Experts aren’t as highly esteemed as they once were, but there are those who insist we follow them, and they always do so in a political context, hence this thread.

The trouble with experts is you can find a so-called expert willing to say anything at all, and another one to say the exact opposite. Which is one big reason people don’t take experts seriously anymore. But never mind that. Let’s get the ball rolling with…

Dunno what Ben Carson has to say, but everyone here says he’s no rocket scientist.

“current smoking status appears to be a protective factor against the infection by SARS-CoV-2”.

Junk science!

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That’s it. That proves it. For decades doctors told us that smoking was good. Then the big pharma companies turned the narrative around and warned us that smoking was bad because cancer and shit. And now this study proves that smoking would have made us 105% immune to the chinese aids. Those big pharma CEOs knew it and are now making trillions of dollars developing treatments for a virus that could have been prevented by smoking cigars while sipping whisky.


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You can find alternating experts on any position, but there’s usually a scholarly preponderance, or at least a few major viewpoints with substantial support. There are a lot of false equivalencies out there. Hydroxychloroquine is not a vaccine. Wearing a mask is better than not wearing one. Putting fewer people in the same space results in fewer infections. Testing helps. You can find a contrarian view on all of these, but most of the experts agree.

One think I am very grateful for now is that Taiwan is basically a technocracy. In what other country did they choose an economist and an epidemiologist for the top two positions? Imagine having leaders who know not to drink bleach. And Taiwan has had more folk with PhDs as president in 30 years than the US has had in 200.

My understanding is that for the NIH system here, Taiwan basically pulled the brightest authority they could find and had that person design it. Compare this to the US, where doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and taxpayers all have competing interests.



Good book. Read it a few years back.


The people who actually know how things work don’t waste time talking or writing papers… unless they’re retired.

The only expert article worth taking seriously is one that contains some variant of “how I did it” in the title. All the rest is either academic bullshit or some sort of scam.

Knowing how scholarly preponderances are made gives me a greater appreciation for contrarian experts.

I’d suggest reading Kuhn, but… no.

Because he hasn’t published anything with “how I did it” in the title?

Yeah, basically.

If he’s right, it’s in the stopped clock sense.


So, again, the experts have been struggling with how to balance economic harm vs disease harm. On some of these, it’s not that the experts are wrong, it’s that they’re still unclear or they are weighing competing claims.

I think initially we didn’t have a handle on this in the US. Could we pull off testing, tracking, shutdowns, and safety measures enough to totally stop the disease? That would have been the best thing, but given geography, human behavior and inexperience, we couldn’t do that. We also didn’t want an Italy/Wuhan style overloading of hospitals and pileup of bodies. I have friends in NJ and it’s grim there. We did manage to slow the speed and stop overwhelming hospitals, but we’re very much in the first wave of things.

So now at least for the US the challenge is to figure out what’s possible and what the risks are. Experts also know that economic catastrophe kills people, etc., etc. Maybe we’ll find ways to do phased openings, or tweak school attendance, etc., etc. Some of this the experts don’t know now. But they did a pretty good job on guessing spread/death rates and recommending good interventions vs bad intervention (chloroquine, drinking clorox, etc.). We’re also learning about ways to slow the spread (masks?), offer treatment (check oxygen levels, recognize that intubation has a high death rate), or find work arounds (online work and school).

I don’t really know what you’re arguing? Are you arguing that there’s no way to find evidence about what works? Are you just distrustful of anyone with MD or PhD at the end of their name? Which contrarian advice do you think was right and which expert advice was wrong?

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This is exactly right. Even though there are contrarian views on everything, consensus and peer reviewed research cut through the noise. The only political context is ignoring the consensus and highlighting a contrarian viewpoint which is often not from an expert in the field, but rather an opinion piece for one’s own political gain.

Take climate change as an example. 99% of all published and peer reviewed researched on climatology attributes changes in climate to anthropogenic (man made) global warming. Yes you can find 1% that don’t. But we’re all adults here. Let’s put our critical thinking caps on. It’s not the experts that are failing, it’s our education system that is failing.


He’s not an economist. You expect him to comment on something that he has no expertise in? What like the president?


I don’t agree but I respect the snark!

The president knows economics. That’s well established.

Anyone who does not understand economics has no business making public policy on any matter whatsoever. Economics is fundamental.

Does his well established economics background come from his extensive history of bankruptcies and scams (Trump University, Trump steaks, various “charities”)? Or is it because his dad bought his way into a bachelors at Wharton? Who would you say has most influenced Trump’s economic outlook?

Choose your recovery:

The experts contradict each other, so they can’t all be right. They can, however, all be wrong. There are a lot of experts who are dead wrong, and time will tell who.

Not as many as non-experts. It’s confirmation bias. When we hear an expert who’s right, we just nod and move on. When an expert is wrong, it stands out. When we hear Joe Blow mouthing off at the end of the bar, and he is wrong, we shrug and say “what did you expect”. On the rare occasion he’s right, we’re impressed- and forget all the other times.
“They laughed at Galileo”- but not everybody that gets laughed at is Galileo.

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You’ve got it backwards. When an expert stands out, he’s wrong.