I just love when newspapers begin a story with “According to experts…” or something like that so when headlines which include the word “expert” pop up in my rss-reader, I simply have to read what kind of “expert” is being pulled out of the hat this time. Experts come in many forms and the be honest, the concept – at least in Danish – is a bit devalued and the headline is mainly used for … well, what is the headline used for?
Chris Dillow helps us:
To point out that experts are wrong, however, is to misunderstand the purpose of them. Their function is not to provide knowledge, and still less clear thinking. Instead, it is to provide certainty. People hate dissonance, doubt and uncertainty. Experts help dispel these. So, Paul Britton’s function was to tell the police that they had the right man, whilst economic forecasters’ job is to provide an impression that the future is knowable; no-one wants to hear about standard errors, parameter uncertainty or the Lucas critique.
Erik Albæk – who must then be an expert-expert – has written about the changing use of experts in Danish media.
(In case you wonder, I don’t consider myself an expert on anything. I should have wrapped up this crazy year by having finished a manuscript about the early Danish unemployment insurance by now (well, there went the Christmas and New Year’s holidays…), but I wouldn’t say that I really know anything profound about that subject – at least not compared to a lot of other people1. How I got that gig? Oh, the expert was busy working on other projects, I guess.)
- K.K. Steincke, I hear you say. Okay – guilty as charged, but Steincke was all about local government assistance/poor relief and sickness insurance, not unemployment insurance [↩]