Contra Mozilla

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Expert Bias

An acquaintance of mine semi-recently wrote that he has learned one thing in his years of trying to follow "expert opinions." This is that while the experts almost certainly have their biases, he surely has his own, and his are probably much worse off, much harder to see around, and much more likely to give in to error.

After mulling it over for some months, I have three thoughts about this.

The first is that there is certainly some credence to this notion. It also gives an interesting twist to Matthew 7:5 and Luke 7:42:
"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye" (Luke 6:41-42).
The second is to wonder who gets to decide who the experts are. There are biases in that process, too. Is it those who have a degree, or especially an advanced degree? Certainly some such people should be experts, but then again there are those who have studied the problem on their own--and whose funding (read: livelihood) is unlikely to depend on the answer they give.

The third is to note that the experts do in fact still have biases, often systematic ones, and at time ones which are unwarranted. Funding is an easy example, but there are plenty of others. The "experts" in psychology state that homosexuality is not (ever) a mental disorder (or a moral one--but they never admit this)--but at this time one of the requirements for becoming a certified (read: licensed, degree-holding) expert in psychology is to state that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. Meanwhile, the "experts" who write textbooks on embryology once universally stated that an unborn child was in fact still a fully human child--right up until 1973, when the Supreme Court decided otherwise. Suddenly the textbooks altered their phrasings--hardly an unbiased point.

No comments:

Post a Comment