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This Expert says Don’t Trust the Experts

By August Turak

Throughout this pandemic many people keep saying to ignore the politicians in favor of "listening to the experts."

Guest op 3Now nobody has more respect for science than me, but, though I am no fan of politicians in general either, I must report a bit of ambivalence about that advice.

First of all, the "experts" frequently don't agree. When this happens, it is up to politicians and other elected or appointed individuals to decide.  It is an unenviable task for sure. If you are right the "expert" gets the credit. If you are wrong, you "should've listened to the experts!"  Not to mention that hindsight is always 20/20.

Secondly the word "expert" implies a narrow field of "expertise."   Very few experts or scientists are qualified to consider the Big Picture, and they often miss the unintended consequences.  It is easy to lament the deforestation of the rain forests if you don't have to worry about starving all the subsistence slash and burn farmers doing the deforesting.

Balancing a myriad of competing interests and outcomes is again what politicians are SUPPOSED to do, and there is no substitute for having people to do this job. Experts advise but politicians and leaders must decide.

Finally, experts, like us all, can be both arrogant and arrogantly wrong.  I have lived long enough to live through more than a few rounds of "experts" making dire predictions that have not panned out.  Fears of a "population bomb" have been replaced by fears of too few people in places like Germany. China is beginning to regret listening to the "experts" who talked them into their "one child" policy.  Now there are not enough women to marry all the boy babies preferred by couples and not enough young people to support the old.

The consensus among the "experts" was that we would be absolutely out of oil sometime in the 1980s.  More news just today is that the world is AWASH in oil.  OPEC just announced a cut of 10 MILLION barrels a day and now the experts are saying that is not even half enough cuts to prop up prices. I read yesterday that on an inflation adjusted basis we are buying gas at 1932 prices!!!!

There is in fact so much oil sloshing around that some "experts" are predicting that when the world runs out of storage the oil producers will be forced to PAY FOLKS TO TAKE IT OFF THEIR HANDS.

Where are all the experts now who told us that "BIG OIL" was controlling the world and artificially keeping the price of oil in the stratosphere? Investing in Big Oil companies like Exxon have been "dead money" for DECADES now.  I know I am an investor!! 🙂

So, while I love science and trust my doctor, I am just as skeptical of the nostrum, "Listen to the experts!" as I am about those who would have me believe that "women never lie!" 🙂

As always there is no substitute for doing one's own thinking. You gotta be an expert on which experts to listen to!

AUTHOR AUGUST TURAK is a highly successful entrepreneur, award-winning author, speaker, and contributor for Forbes. com and the BBC. He is the founder of the educational nonprofit the Self Knowledge Symposium Foundation (SKSF). As a frequent guest, Turak has been living and working alongside the monks of Mepkin Abbey since 1996. His latest book is “Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life,” published by Clovercroft.  


published April 16, 2020


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