In Defence of Scepticism

Reference work entry

Of all the English words debased by overuse, ‘expert’ and ‘expertise’ are among the most frequently abused. Anyone who does anything, however mundane, with a modicum of skill, is said to be an expert. And along with the appellation goes the presumed right to instruct the rest of us on how to think and act.

An exaggeration? Then think only of the power of the fashion merchants and other arbiters of ‘good taste’, the marketing and public relations gurus, religious dogmatists, scientists with research grants to protect, futurologists, self-appointed moral censors, educationists (I mean those who pronounce on the practice of education), purveyors of psychobabble and, more influential than all the rest, the guardians of financial institutions who, in a crisis, are forever telling us not to panic, at least not until they have secured the safety net for their own investments.

The rot starts at the top with governments increasingly relying on ‘expert’ advisers whose qualifications and...


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