Experts and their Advice

We all have to rely on expert advice to some degree. However, all advice, even from the most eminent expert, needs to be taken as advice, and not as gospel truth.

Experts tend to be narrow specialists in their knowledge and outlook. They think that their expertise is the best solution becasue they have spent so long studying their field of expertise that they have not enough time to study other fields, and so their knowledge is limitec to their speciality.

Thus, if you are ill and go to a physician the physician will tend to advise what he or she knows – usually medication. If you then go to a surgeon, the surgeon will then advise what he or she knows – an operation. A physiotherapist will advise physiotherapy for the same condition. No single specialist has a monopoly on knowledge so it can be dangerous to rely on advice tendered by a specialist rather than by a generalist.

The present corona pandemic is a case in point. the government rightly sought to be led by experts in medicine and pandemics. In particular they seemed to have attached much weight to the calculations of Professor Ferguson as justification for the present lockdown.

Now it seems to me that present Ferguson did not really believe in his calculations. If he did believe in them he would not have met a friend on two occasions in breach of the lockdown regulations because to do so, by his own arithmetic, would have caused the virus to spread. In these circumstances I do not see why the government should rely on professor Ferguson’s expert advice any more, if the learned professor does not believe in his own advice sufficiently to adhere to it.

All expert advice and recommendations should be carefully scrutinised; like the parson’s egg it will be good in parts. It seems to me that some experts lack good old fashioned common sense and common sense, not expertise, is the pre-requisite for sound judgment which in turn should be the basis of all decision making.