Thursday, November 11, 2010

On The Definition of An "Expert"

As to jury trials in the courts, my definition of an expert has always been "one who is paid more than an average person to give an opinion".

The reason for that definition can be seen during jury trials when typically one expert will give an opinion for the plaintiff or prosecution, yet another expert will give an opposite opinion for the defendant.

Both are experts, and they are using the same evidence.

But our false notion that if we call an expert to help us with a problem we will derive one and only one concluding reality, thereby invalidating the rest of the possibilities, is more often than not caused by a love affair with oversimplification.

Of course there is also the spectre of perjury or lesser forms of dishonesty, and even incompetence.

But the point is that this contrast or contradiction can arise even when both experts are honest and have a sincere belief in their opinion.

Thus the oft quoted statement by experts as to their own opinion: "get a second opinion", means "I think others will agree with what I just told you".

But when there is contrast or contradiction in expert positions, in our system of law a jury must decide which expert is correct on the facts, not because we think non-experts know more than experts know, but because of our ancient, well founded beliefs, based upon the experience of our ancestors, that "power corrupts".

Daily we are a jury when we hear conflicting reports from experts about global warming, global climate change, and the peak oil concerns.

There is constant chatter and bickering back and forth about these issues, and experts are by no means in solid accord when it comes to solutions, even though there is major, growing consensus among experts as to these two realities.

As an example a discussion ongoing at a blog which discusses peak oil problems from many perspectives, considers the weaknesses and strengths of other experts in the field:
Can the IEA really be expected to be objective? I tried to look at this issue two years ago, when the World Energy Outlook 2008 was released. The organization of the IEA, its close ties to the OECD, and the significant funding of the IEA by the US gave me real doubts about its ability to be objective at the time of my analysis. I doubt the situation has changed a great deal in the last two years.
(The Oil Drum). Meanwhile another group of experts came at the problem from a totally different part of the playing field:
At the current pace of research and development, global oil will run out 90 years before replacement technologies are ready, says a new University of California, Davis, study based on stock market expectations.


Niemeier said the new study's findings are a warning that current renewable-fuel targets are not ambitious enough to prevent harm to society, economic development and natural ecosystems.
(Science Daily, Journal Article). This issue matters to all of us because our lives and the lives of 6 billion other people will be affected by the eventual outcome of the discussion or debate.

It is a life and death issue, your jury vote counts, so take time to make the best decision you can with what you have to make that decision.


  1. Dredd,

    From what I've read, I've tentatively concluded that renewables, at least as we conceive them now, will only support a much smaller population anyway. The era of cheap fossil energy has allowed population growth that was simply never sustainable in the first place (this has been widely commented on for at least the last 50 years), so I think it's a given that population levels will have to shrink dramatically - one way or another - to accomodate the new energy realities.

    If the 20th century was the population bubble, the 21st will be the popping of same (hmmm.... just like our financial markets - go figure!). Everything in our current experience tells us that there's simply too many humans and too much growth for a planet of finite natural resources to support, and, unfortunately, that our corporate capitalist elite have already recognized this and are making preparations for what's next.

    Viewed through that lens, the current strategy of perpetual war and the looting of the American treasury to force the American public into poverty and servitude begins to make a lot of sense. I think we all know how this is going to end, and it won't be happily for most. Unfortunately, I suspect the arrival at the bottom will be the best of it, as the ride down will be full of herks and jerks, with brief periods of false hope interjected into long stretches of utter despair.

    Too bad for us in the US that it was WE and the lying politicians we gave power to who engineered this entire mess and must now bear the brunt of the blame. Not that we'll ever recoup all the pain and suffering we've already inflicted on the rest of the world in our quest for imperial domination, but I suspect we'll get a heaping helping anyway.

    And with our higher living standards and expectations for future prosperity, it'll all feel much worse than it actually is, and the fickle finger of blame will spin wildly out of control, as the public searches desperately for anyone and anything to burn on the public pyre of condemnation for their desperate fate.

    All to no avail.

    Fun times ahead!

  2. Does this include government experts?

  3. disaffected,

    "Fun times ahead" if one used to work in the gas chambers of Germany perhaps ...

    But I know that your sarcasm means the opposite.

    Overpopulation, I agree, is of prime concern but governments did not listen.

    Randy, no it does not apply to government experts.

  4. Dredd,

    Man, did you ever hit the nail on the head in that linked post above regarding "G Meetings." I regret to say I'm a quasi-governmental employee (I work for an LLC that is a parasite of a major governmental department), and the part about aspiring to the tier that does nothing but go to meetings all day is EXACTLY right. Prior to that I was active duty military, where the same concept applies, albeit in somewhat more egalitarian form (the military simply doesn't have the luxury, at least at the operational levels I was at, to have half of the workforce employed doing nothing). I've always been a proud member of the lower, "phone answerer" tier, where the actual work gets done, whatever that amounts to.

    Unfortunately, as I've been exposed to the private sphere, I've found them to be even worse for the most part. Compound that with the fact that the pay disparities are truly astronomical and seem to have an inverse relationship to actual common sense, production capability, and value to the organization.

    By the way, that "parasitic LLC" I work for is just that in every sense of the word. Their only real purpose is to enforce the corporate mantra of COST SAVINGS (sound of angel harps), and of course that means only one thing: labor cost reductions by a hard line on salary increases, forced elimination of older, more expensive employees and replacement with younger, cheaper counterparts, and reduced hiring and staffing levels. All of that while the management goons they brought in all make in excess of $250K annually, with stock options, pay incentives, bonuses, relocation allowances, and all the other quirks one would expect in the corporate world. Good work if you can find it.

    We common people call our united fate simply MORE WITH LESS, but of course the corporate goons despise that term, and it will land you in hot water post haste if you throw it around indiscriminately. Speaking truth to power has always been verboten in despotic regimes, and modern corporate America has certainly certainly become all that.

  5. Another excellent post Dredd, this reminds me of an excellent 1973 film that I was fortunate enough to discover recently. "F for Fake" is one of Orson Welles later films and explores who is an expert and who is a counterfeiter in the world of art. Of course the world of art doesn't have the same ramifications that our dependence on oil does, but it is similar in how it portrays the "experts" versus the "fakers". Just like in our current situation, the "experts" are the ones making the money while the "fakers" are the ones who are decried as a modern day chicken little (The sky is falling!).

    @disaffected: "'ll all feel much worse than it actually is..."

    How true! I am amazed sometimes at how many people feel they need constant entertainment (movies, TV, bars, whatever) these days. The whole narrative people have of using/seeing the next big thing and not taking time to look at our socioeconomic system in context, brings to mind the saying "Penny-wise, dollar-foolish". Makes me wonder what our founding fathers would make of our current state (see link by my name).

    Here's hoping (not expecting) for a paradigm shift in 2012!

    P.S. Just read the older post you linked to, another great job!

  6. disaffected,

    MOMCOM operatives have begun to return fire on some of the major blogs where I try to stir up as much "trouble" (a.k.a. reality) as possible.

    So, I am tightening up on some of my technically loose ("US spends more on military / war that the rest of the nations combined") but demonstrably accurate declarations.

    I want to get very precise in a series of posts in case I have not been.

    You are invited to participate in revealing the reality of how much we spend (remembering that "spent" also means "accounted for") compared to the rest of the world.

    Remember during this exercise ("The Dredded Truth") the principle in the post Getting Caught Is The Only No-No ... what has been lost (25% of Pentagon budget) is not an "expenditure" technically ... at least in some of the return fire. (I say if the fu*kers lost it they spent it.)

    Evidently a nerve has been hit by Dredd Blog, so I could be an endangered species of sorts (like we all aren't anyway).

    But lets find: 1) open expenditure declarations, 2) classified budget estimates, 3) spydom (CIA, DIA, DHS, etc) estimates, and 4) hidden costs and expose it.

    You stay stealth and I will too, but lets bust these fu*kers because they want the social security money so they can go fu*k up some more countries.

    Run the key words "military oil complex" and enough Dredd Blog posts should show up to give us a start.

    Plus I am looking at historical data that confirms the theory in other places. Find some too.

    And never forget the beautiful MOMCOM who said "see you at the election bitches". ;-)

  7. Dredd,

    Regarding your link to Getting Caught Is The Only No-No above, I felt from the beginning that the Madoff prosecution (as well as Enron and the other egregious examples of the past decade) was motivated not by the fact that what they were doing was so outrageous and falsely discredited the rest of American business; but to the contrary, that what they were doing was so typical in corporate America that their exposure might lead reasonable people to assume that the whole damn edifice was rotten to the core and lead to it falling of its own accord.

    That's what was behind all the closed door meetings and hyperventilating bankers and pols in 2008 as well. It was not merely that the major banks were all technically insolvent, but that their crash would expose the literally thousands upon thousands of ponzi schemes that had made it all possible in the first place.

    We are now in prety much the same position as the USSR in the late 80s IMO. A corrupt, illegitimate government that's rotting from within, but with the added factor of complete and total regulatory and policy capture by even more corrupt and illegitimate corporate financial, industrial, and defense sectors. We are quite literally only being held together by the prospect of a few more years of robbery by our corporate stick-up artist masters, after which the corpse of American democracy will be abandoned by the side of the road as a warning to those who might protest.

    Someone better tell them that parasites don't usually fare so well when they kill off their hosts, and Uncle Sugar's on life support and failing fast as we speak.