“Experts”

This blog has always hosted a tremendous quote by living legend, economics professor and all round fount of wisdom, Thomas Sowell. Anything written by the Great Man is worth reading. Here it is:

“There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs.”

Charles Moore, writing about tax havens, reminds us of the classic example – economists v Thatcher:

I am no tax expert, but when 300 economists, particularly if led by Jeffrey Sachs and Thomas Piketty, all agree about something — as 364 did that Mrs Thatcher, in 1981, was messing things up — one can be confident they are mistaken. 

And here is Dan Hannan, today, musing on the snobbery of the ‘elite’, many of whom of course propel themselves into politics:

Experts often get things hideously wrong. When the entire Establishment coalesces around a fashionable idea, ordinary people are right to become suspicious. Everyone knew that it was wise to appease the Nazis in the 1930s, to nationalise industry in the 1940s, to have a planned economy in the 1950s, comprehensive education in the 1960s, prices and incomes policies in the 1970s. Everyone knew that it was sensible to back the ERM in the 1980s, the euro in the 1990s, the bailouts in the 2000s. Everyone, that is, except the general population.

So, given this year’s twin challenges of the US election* and the EU referendum, beware of received wisdom. Time to place bets.**

ts2
another zinger

 

*for the record, Sowell can’t stand either candidate

**this “Lunch with the FT” piece, with Philip Tetlock , author of Superforecasting, is fascinating and highly relevant

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2 thoughts on ““Experts”

    1. Perhaps not an absolute consensus, but Churchill had to overrule a lot of “experts”. I would suggest that you are not familiar with Dan Hannan’s work, if you think that he “does not know a thing about history”.

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