Who are THE experts?
Experts are the clever people.
They know about things that most people don’t understand.
Experts become super clever by doing ‘research’
When we aren’t sure about something, experts are there to guide us.
We must listen to experts and not make mistakes.
Experts are here to help us
During our lives we have to make decisions.
Decisions are complicated.
Experts can show us how to make a complicated decision.
Experts show us what food to eat; how to bring up children; how we should vote and how to be good.
Experts show us what is right and what is wrong.
Politicians are worried that the people they rule don’t listen to them properly.
They ask experts to educate us.
To help us know when to listen properly, politicians say
“The research tells us that..”
“The evidence shows us that..”
“The data says..”
“The majority of experts believe that..”
When you hear these phrases, you must follow what they say. These are the words of the experts.
Experts help us by being on our televisions.
Many actors, TV celebrities and musicians are experts.
Who is there to help us?
If we want to understand world poverty and Africa, it is singing expert Sir Bob Geldof.
If we want to understand biology or public health policy, it is cheeky chef Jamie Oliver.
Leonardo Di Caprio is there to help us with the complex issue of climate science.
Experts on the economy
Experts who guide us about economic matters are called ‘Economists’.
But how do they work?
Economists talk to each other about ‘assumptions’ to agree a ‘consensus’. This is called ‘group-think’. This allows Economists to do their work.
Economists turn their ‘group-think’ into numbers. They use computer spreadsheets to produce ‘forecasts’ and ‘predictions’.
Some people think that the economists should make the economy actually work better, but this is unfair because they are the thinkers and not the doers.
Christine Lagarde, is an international economist. She is the head of the International Monetary Fund.
Christine explained to the British people that it was wrong to vote to leave the European Union. Christine used her special spreadsheet to ‘forecast’ that a vote to leave the EU would have “pretty bad to very, very bad consequences, lead to a stock market crash and a steep fall in house prices.”
Although Christine was careful when she applied the group-think, none of these things actually happened.
Some people think that Christine had a computer problem that and she should try turning it off and then on again.
Despite its name, the Confederation for British Industry are experts in European unification.
As a result of careful research, the CBI has shown that the EU is better at managing the British economy than British business leaders. The CBI experts explained that it was better to join the European Monetary System in 1987, the Euro in 1999 and to remain in the European Union in 2016.
Caroline Fairburn is the Director-General of the CBI. She has worked carefully to turn the group-think into numbers, but it doesn’t always produce the right answer.
Some people think that Caroline has a computer problem similar to Christine’s.
George Osborne was the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. George asked experts in the Treasury to turn his assumption into one very big number.
The number was £4,300.
George explained to people that if they voted to leave the EU, they would lose £4,300. He would be forced to impose an ‘emergency budget’ to save the country from a financial ‘black hole’.
People were worried that the Treasury had a computer problem too. They made a mistake and voted to leave the EU.
George Osborne looked everywhere for his emergency budget, but couldn’t find it and was sacked.
Sometimes, it’s hard being an expert when you lose things.
Experts use special words
Because of all the computer problems, experts have started using special phrases to make people listen.
Using special phrases also means that the expert can save time. They can provide guidance without the cumbersome need for scientific proof.
These phrases include ‘linked to’, ‘increased risk of’, and ‘possible that’.
For example, Sally Davies, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer says that “when you look at a glass of wine, think about the increased risk of cancer”
This means that you must not enjoy wine when you drink it.
Listen carefully when you hear the phrase ‘independent research shows’, ‘the data tells us’ or ‘research indicates’.
For example, climate change experts say that the data tells us that flying to go on holiday will destroy the planet’.
This means that you must not enjoy your holiday.
On some days, health experts tell us to eat less fat, meat, eggs, carbohydrates and sweets. On other days they say that we should eat more fat, meat, eggs, carbohydrates and sweet fruits.
So, it is best to write it all down on a calendar. Make a note of which foods to eat on which days and not make mistakes.
Alternatively, you can eat what you like. There is always an expert who has produced some research that will support your decision.
Sometimes grown-ups like to have a drink with friends or when watching box sets.
This is dangerous and you should ask mum and dad to consult the Department of Health (DoH) Guidelines.
The DoH guidelines are special rules drawn up by alcohol experts known as the Institute of Alcohol Studies and the Alcohol Health Alliance or the Modern Temperance Movement for short.
Now that vicars are not very popular, the Department of Health provides moral guidence on the problems of alcohol.
Experts have replaced the word ‘evil’ with the phrase ‘negative health outcomes’. This is not very catchy and explains why most people still ignore them.
Everybody knows that smoking is bad for your health.
So, why do some grown-ups still smoke?
Experts have concluded that people who smoke have different brains. They are unable to think for themselves and are easily tricked by shiny packets and glossy advertising.
Anti-smoking experts understand that smokers need to be lectured, scared and made poorer to stop them smoking.
Although lots of smokers have started vaping instead, experts are committed to their campaign. Next, they plan to stop the packets being shiny.
Experts understand people’s brains and shiny things.
Mummy and Daddy experts
In the olden days parents brought up children on their own. Parents used to know what was best for their own children. When parents needed advice, they asked friends and family.
Nowadays, research shows that parents worry and lack confidence in their own abilities. Parents need help from experts.
Experts have helpfully written many books. These include:
“Your Baby: Strict Routines” and “Your Baby: Always Be There”
“Bringing up Teenagers: Be Strict!” and “Bringing up Teenagers: You Are Their Best Friend”
Parenting experts understand children better than their parents. Parenting experts can focus on advice because they don’t have to spend time actually bringing up a family.
Tell your parents that it is ok to worry and that they should read books about how to talk to you and when to tell you off.
In the olden days, there was a lesson at school called ‘sex education’. All the boys and girls found it embarrassing and worked out how sex happened when the teachers weren’t around.
Nowadays, sex education is run by experts in ‘feminism’. Their research shows that boys are dangerous and that girls are vulnerable. Experts run ‘consent’ classes to teach boys to ask girls politely if they would like to do sex.
Boys must listen to experts because they need to learn how to stop being oppressors of girls.
Experts in ‘The Science’
Sometimes even top experts find things too complicated. When this happens it is important that uncertainty does not cloud decisive political action.
For example, the scientists do not know what determines the constantly changing global climate.
However, governments want to show that they are ‘tackling climate change’ and they need experts to demonstrate ‘certainty’. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has ensured that a lack of scientific knowledge is no barrier to providing a ‘consensus’ on ‘certainty’.
The IPCC has employed consultants, environmental campaigners and carefully selected researchers to write policy documents.
The IPCC has given this approach a special name. It is ‘The Science’.
Experts and the future
When things actually happen, they are called ‘facts’. When experts think that something may happen in the future, they are called ‘predictions’.
So, what should we do when the ‘facts’ are different from the ‘predictions’ made by an expert?
We need to understand that a ‘higher truth’ is even more real than facts.
For example, an expert in the top University at Cambridge, Professor Peter Wadhams has predicted that the Arctic sea ice may “completely disappear” in the summer of 2016. In fact, the Arctic sea was 4.1 million kilometers square and has started re-freezing at the fastest rate since records began.
It would be wrong to conclude that the ‘facts’ prove Professor Wadham’s ‘prediction’ to be wrong, because this is trumped by a ‘higher truth’.
The expert must be believed because the ‘higher truth’ is that Global Warming is caused by people and this is melting all the Arctic ice and this is killing Polar Bears and the Polar Bears will then come to England and eat us.
Experts know that some people don’t like numbers and long phrases.
So, to help people understand, experts now use magic words.
One of these words is ‘sustainable’.
When experts use the word ‘sustainable’, it means that the project they are proposing is the right thing to do.
In the olden days, experts presented the costs and the benefits for any new project. Nowadays, by using the word ‘sustainable’, there is no need for this.
By using the word ‘sustainable’, it helps us know that the experts have made the decision for us. We don’t need to worry about the cost and it doesn’t matter if there is actually any benefit.
Listen the experts
Nowadays there is lots of data. Data shows us what is right and wrong.
The experts know how to read the data using special techniques. These include ‘researching’ and ‘studying’ as well as ‘campaigning’ and ‘moralising’. They can show us how to do things properly.
In the olden days, people used to work things out for themselves. Political leaders made the big decisions and people worked out how to live their own lives.
In the modern world, things are very complicated.
Luckily, experts have special powers to ‘read the data’.
We must listen to experts when they speak to us.
We must do what they say and not make mistakes.
In the modern world, there are lots of ‘big issues’. We debate the ‘big issues’ and vote on them to determine our future. This is called ‘politics’.
But, there is a problem.
Nowadays, most people can only think about little things, like how to write an email or serve sandwiches and coffee. They are simple people with simple ways.
The simple people cannot make sense of the big modern world around them. They do not understand what is in their interests or what they believe in.
The simple people become confused when they hear different points of view. They become emotional and irrational. This means that, nowadays, ‘politics’ is a bad way to decide the ‘big issues’.
In the future, the simple people won’t be troubled by big decisions. These will be taken by experts.
We must watch the experts, because they know what they are doing.
© Andy Shaw, 2nd October 2016