Experts, pah!


I was listening to Pat Kenny on Newstalk discuss the water pipe leakage in Co. Louth and I was struck for the umpteenth time in the last couple of years or so, how the testimony of an expert was largely ignored or mistrusted as the ramblings of some kind of ‘paid shill’ of a vested interest, who’s sole intention was not to do anything except pull the wool over the eyes of the general public. The texts and tweets came ‘pouring in’ and by the evidence, they were convinced they knew far more about the situation than any ‘engineer’ whose life’s mission was a rather unhealthy devotion to pipes!

During the Brexit referendum in the UK, ‘experts’ who predicted any kind of negative outcome as a result of leaving the EU were dismissed as members of ‘Project Fear’ and facts were indivisible from opinions. Seemingly, now the UK government is finally waking up to the reality that all the rhetoric in the world cannot change international treaties and lengthily negotiated rules in 2 years. Open Skies, Euratom, Emmission Trading, Patents and Intellectual Property, Medicine Approvals, NGO grants, Europol…apparently the list is endless. The reality seems to be that fixing all of these issues prior to Article 50 deadline day is impossible. The ‘experts’ predicted this but why would anyone be interested in them?

We don’t need experts anymore. We have the internet instead. If you want to find out something, google it. If you don’t like the answer, google some more and you’ll probably find a different one that suits you better. I think that’s what Kellyanne Conway meant when she coined the ‘alternative facts’ line. Since in her mind, and Trump’s, and many politicians these days, facts are irrelevant. What’s far more important is one’s ability to convince a cohort of social media users of your version of the truth and by the power of liking, sharing and retweeting, it will seep into a large section of the public conscience as pure truth, to be regurgitated ad nauseum on endless thread after thread of insane bickering in the comments section, dressed up as serious political debate.

Since actual fact checking is a laborious and complicated procedure, and requires actual knowledge of the subject to be able to ask the right questions, do the right searches, nobody except the actual experts can be bothered to do it. And nobody listens to them.

Leo V declared to Vincent Browne that 70% of the Irish population were Middle Class. Vincent nearly choked and asked Leo where he got this nugget of info from? Leo looks mildly panicked and then declared it was a known fact. We’re doomed.

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