Truth (as part of trust)

(some negatives of social media cont.)

One of the first casualties of the Internet age has been truth. There is so much mis-information (fake news) about. There is a need for more evidence-based information rather than use of questionable statistics and statements as shown by politicians of all persuasions.

Understandably is less trust in these so-called experts. They are seen by people as less trustworthy and not objective, ie
"...their considered opinions are seen as a self-reinforcing apparatus and putting themselves beyond challenge - to advance their holders'status, their careers or, most damaging of all, their political views over those of the less educated classes. The popular suspicion is that an elite deploys his (her) long years of schooling and the 'evidence base' to make himself (herself) sound more knowledgeable as he (she) rationalises the policies he (she) was going to prefer all along..."
Helen Jackson et al, 2017

The increasing use of expert as the stamp of authority is eroding the relationship between the expert and the public, ie
"...unless you are familiar with the latest nuance in academic are automatically unqualified to have a valid opinion.....a fault line between the people and those who think they know what's good for them...... experts may see it as their role to uphold truth, facts and evidence, but they can only do so if they maintain public trust..."
Helen Jackson et al, 2017

Social science can be an area of concern as it involves more subjective judgement and interpretations when compared with measuring physical reality. Social science has more scope for biases. At the same time, the social sciences are becoming more important in change management, eg people skills, communications, leadership, etc.

The use of peer reviews of scientific papers submitted to respectable journals is meant to safeguard the authenticity of the papers. However, there are some problems with this as experts doing the peer reviews can have their own bias, ie does the paper support their own work, thier personal and professional attitude to the writer and his/her findings, etc. The selection of reviewers can be a problem as they are generally not paid, can be busy on other things like their own research work, etc. Furthermore, once a paper is published, the chances of further scrutiny are small and its publication confers its authority, ie little licence from challenges. One of the important tests to authenticate findings is to be able to replicate them.

Expert findings are used as  'set in concrete' facts to support or challenge contentious issues like diversity, gender, etc found in the workplace can breed cynicism and expert fatigue.

An expert opinion is supposedly based on rational thinking and decision-making. Yet we know that many decisions are made irrationally. An example of this is tacit knowledge, ie
"...knowledge is based on experience, which shapes people's habits and beliefs without being codified..."
Helen Jackson et al, 2017

Results of qualitative consultation (including feedback) can replace data as the basis for decision making, eg listening to what the majority thinks, rather than examining the data.

The design of the research can influence the outcomes, eg the wording of questions in surveys, selection of representative samples, etc can all result in biased results.

"...putting empirical analysis on a pedestal can lead to intolerance towards others who start with different views..."
Helen Jackson et al, 2017

NB People having different views to the 'experts' can be seen as ill-informed and/or stupid!!!!

An example of experts being wrong is the central banks being unable to predict the GFC (starting in 2007) and the pandemic (starting in 2020). They are good at reacting to situations rather than predicting, ie reactive rather than proactive. It is interesting to note that experts in central banks were given independence in their decision-making from outside influence, ie they are the experts and therefore they should know.

"...huge faith was invested in their predictions and those of associated technocrats and institutions like the International Monetary Fund until the crash showed that these institutions could not be always depended on..."
Helen Jackson et al, 2017

NB People with different view from the experts can be seen as ill-informed and/or stupid!!!!

Additionally, many people don't have the training to process the evidence, information, etc correctly. This allows them to be manipulated by so-called expert opinion which could be based on misinformation.

Nobel prize winner James Buchanan articulated some interesting concepts in his public choice theory, ie
"...Bureaucracies with......theoretical aims can go awry in practice......pursuing practically any collective goal will lead to empire-building bureaucracies which also fall prey to capture by self-serving lobbyists......examining the possibility that policies that come blessed with an expert stamp are serving the interests of those who put them forward..."
Helen Jackson et al, 2017

Examples of this include what has happened in America with its response to climate change and health care.

There is a need for truth and evidence to be upheld. At the same time, as we should encourage evidence-based thinking, we need to be concerned about how ideas are communicated and received by the broader public. Otherwise there is no meaningful dialogue between the 'know-all-minority' and general populace:
"...we need to show self-awareness; deep intimacy with a subject can, on occasion, lapse into tunnel vision that blanks out our cultural-rooted perceptions and lived experience..."
Helen Jackson et al, 2017


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