The Death of Expertise

Twenty years ago, a mentor used the phrase “truth by assertion.” A memorable (and at the time, accurate) observation. Little did I realize how prescient it would be.

While I’m not naive enough to think that our current public discourse and policy-making will change overnight, I think it’s worth taking a step back to consider the value of expertise in leadership and the establishment of public policy. Just as an engaged citizenry and legitimate debate over competing values are crucial to our democracy, so too is a healthy respect for experts and facts.

This article offers an interesting perspective on the subject–particularly this admonition:

“…it should be clear now that intellectualism makes for lousy policy without some sort of political common sense. Indeed, in an ideal world, experts are the servants, not the masters, of a democracy. But when citizens forgo their basic obligation to learn enough to actually govern themselves, and instead remain stubbornly imprisoned by their fragile egos and caged by their own sense of entitlement, experts will end up running things by default. That’s a terrible outcome for everyone.”

Something we should all think about.

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