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What Would We Do without Experts?

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The coronavirus epidemic has brought public-health experts front and center. We are repeatedly told that we should do what experts tell us to do, no matter how miserable it makes us. They know better.

Maybe they don’t know better.

Governments have ordered beaches closed to slow the spread of Covid-19. Apparently many people don’t agree with that injunction.  Many people across the country have gone to beaches to relax and get away from it all, despite orders to stay home. The reason people ignored these orders is obvious. Going to the beach is a great way to relieve stress and a cheap way to have some fun. It also is easy to stay six feet away from other people on all but the most crowded beaches.

Is it obvious that these people are ignoring sound advice? Are they taking substantial risks that are likely to seriously worsen the Covid-19 pandemic?

Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in many countries and many states in the United States were ordered largely due to forecasts by some expert epidemiologists. These experts forecasted dire consequences if drastic steps weren’t taken. Those forecasts also turned out to be wildly wrong. While hardly benign, Covid-19 is not the Spanish Flu in 1918.

Epidemiologists alone are not the problem.

Many economists pushed subsidies for local energy and manufacturing industries and tariffs on competing imports (a policy called import substitution) in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. The purpose of the policy was to raise standards of living in these areas. Those strategies now are recognized as great ways to perpetuate low incomes.

Payday lending has been evaluated first one way and then another way by so-called experts. During the Obama administration, experts at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) determined that low-income people were not able to understand the implications of loans they received and the government should limit the loans available to them. During the Trump administration, experts at the CFPB – presumably different ones – have determined that low-income people can understand the implications of loans currently available to them. They can’t both be right.

While a professional earning a six-figure income who borrows at a payday lender clearly has financial problems, low-income people with bank accounts can find a payday loan less expensive than overdraft fees and late fees.

As with payday lending, experts often have a hard time evaluating things from the position of the person whose life is liable to be seriously affected.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a recognized expert in epidemiology, has often advised lockdowns as an excellent policy. He says this, explicitly noting when asked that he is considering only the effects on the spread of Covid-19. He takes no account of the effect on people’s ability to earn a living or even on other aspects of public health such as increased suicides, drug addiction and domestic abuse. Maybe this is fair enough to some degree, but the advice seldom is presented in that context. Besides, this advice is the same as a traffic expert recommending that cars be banned to eliminate automobile deaths, with no care for any other effects.

And sometimes experts advocate policies that they know the policymakers and voters would reject if they understood the policy. A famous, recent example of this behavior is Jonathan Gruber’s role in the Affordable Care Act. He helped put together the Affordable Care Act and viewed it as put together in such a way that voters would not understand it and reject it because of their “stupidity”.

Unfortunately, it would be easy to cite many other examples of experts leading people astray in a heavy-handed way, even without being dishonest about it. One policy that comes to mind is the U.S. government’s recommendation of low-fat diets, eating substitutes with higher carbohydrates instead. These diets were presented as a road to health, instead of the actual possible road to a chubbier future.

Experts have been responsible for eugenic policies in the past and forced sterilizations in the United States until relatively recently. It is hard to imagine a more intrusive and life-altering event than forced sterilization. All in all, while politicians are the bane of any democracy, there are lots of reasons to think it better to give political power to elected representatives than to unelected experts who may mean well and so often do enormous harm.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. I always get wary when I see in the press “experts say”. What that really says to me is that some lazy reporter has listened to somebody mouthing off based and their percieved knowledge of the particular subject.
    No contesting or opposing views are ever offerred and most times the analysis is very shallow. I get it everyday in my work. Experts going on about a subject that they know bugger all about and are in general parotting what some dumb bloody leftie or public servant has written and spouted on about. Customers then copy the bullshit unquestioningly.
    Common sense and logic form no part of the discussion. Even when we take the trouble to explain some people still don’t listen.

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  2. No, I think the question is what would an expert do without us!
    Run round and round in circles screaming!
    Whack themselves stupid with their own clipboard!
    They need us or they run away screaming!

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  3. It’s more important to consider why these people became ‘experts’ in the first place. There would be a few who did so for altruistic reasons but the majority of the wise ones that we have to organise what remains of our lives around get tiny little hardons at thought of controlling us.

    There are two types of people in the world. Those who want power to control everyone & those with no such ambitions.

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  4. So called experts are as fake as their advise, and if you notice these things they never follow their own advise

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  5. “Expert” – The dog wouldn’t even shit his opinion!

    ‘We are ready’ – Covid-19 modelling expert confident Auckland should move to Level 1
    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/content/tvnz/onenews/story/2020/10/05/alert-level.html?auto=6197373698001
    Professor Shaun Hendy says there’s a high probability that New Zealand has eliminated the virus in the community.

    This afternoon, Cabinet will announce whether or not Auckland will be joining the rest of the country at Level 1 this Wednesday at 11.59pm.

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    • Course we will go down a level in Auckland. Twit! Just flapping his gums to make noise!
      Cindy needs a dead cat bounce in her election plans.
      Can you just imagine how many votes, she would lose in this covid election, if she didn’t let Ak out.
      Not enough voters have been out to vote yet and she needs all the help she can get!

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  6. Posted on HYS and fits in here as well.
    A good article, simply explaining the choices and the traps of coping with the CCP virus.

    There seems to be a misguided sense of fairness going on.
    Rather than be seen to discriminate against older people – which is what the virus itself does – the medical establishment seems to want to make everyone suffer equally.
    So we end up with the farce of university students being forcibly confined to their halls of residence and told not to go home to their families, despite the fact that the illness poses little risk of serious illness to them.

    A better way forward would be to allow society to operate as normally as possible with guidelines and rules that limit our freedom as little as possible.
    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/502135-nhs-hysterical-covid-elderly/

    It seems that the word “age based apartheid”, as lefties know it to be so bad, that their reaction is so “pendulumic” that becomes totally unreasoned.
    The health system theorists wants every one to have an equality in outcome.

    A scientist full of ‘scieniem’ from the indoctrination of all the educative ‘progressive’ words.
    Controlling those words, leads automatically and unreasonably to further a communist agenda.
    Just like Lysenko ended up with great loss of food production in Russia, that lead to famines.

    Where have we heard a number of versions of this in NZ?
    Our health systems, our education systems our judiciary systems. environment systems etc..

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  7. I see that pic in a different more transparent light ,the grass is the people of NZ and the dog and it’s shit is Cindy and her bunch of assured election winners showing us what they think of us all.

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  8. The example of “experts” promoting high carb, low fat, diets is a good one. It has ruined the lives of billions and made them fat and sick.

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