Behavioral Science

Watch: The Trouble With Experts

by . October 23rd, 2015

“We all want wise men to give us the secret truth, the real low-down, the inside dope about things – someone who knows more than we mere mortals know,” says writer/director Josh Freed.

In the critically-acclaimed, under-the-radar CBC documentary The Trouble with Experts, it seems that popular experts don’t know any more than you or me. A 20-year study of experts shows they’re only right about half the time.

Take that in for a minute. This is just one study, but if the results are anywhere near reproducible, it would mean that the “expert” opinions of many people we trust are no more reliable than a coin toss.

If you have under an hour to kill this weekend, you will hardly do better than to go through this excellent documentary on the pitfalls of trusting so-called experts.

MORE: How To Ask For Advice

In an age where our most important decisions, both personal and professional, are heavily informed by what is often a self-selecting group of experts.

We have no shortage of quacks in entrepreneurial and start-up fields. Management “gurus” and SEO experts come to mind. Writers like myself are often, if not always wrong.

To add to this, the bar that society sets for expert status is incredibly low. All you need is some money and a couple of weeks. There are schools that help you look like an expert. In all honesty, it all looks pretty dire.

Why is this the case? Certainty is a commodity, and demand for it is sky high. The world is a volatile mess, and the future is never certain. Luckily “experts” are there to give us just that. No one wants to listen to someone who says “maybe”.

It’s not always possible to tell apart who is on to something or who is full of it. But here’s our non-expert advice: The moment someone tells you something you want to hear, or “always says always, always says never, and never sells maybe”, keep away.


 Tell us your views in terms certain or uncertain in the comments below!


 

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