At this point, we confront one of the big canards perpetrated by defenders of expertise, namely that anti-experts are anti-intellectuals who privilege ignorance over knowledge and would treat all opinions as equally valid. All that this exercise in misdirection does is to cover up the reverse tendency, namely that our trust in experts in modern democracies has led to a moral dumbing down of the population, as people are encouraged to let authorised others – starting perhaps with the general medical practitioner – decide for them what to believe, even when the consequences of those decisions directly affect people’s lives and sense of self. In effect, modern democracy presents a paradox. At the same time, we enfranchise more of humanity into the political system, and indeed provide people with the education needed to function in that system; we are also discouraging them from exercising their judgement, given the increasing normative weight invested in expertise.
The result is that we are breeding a culture of intellectual deference, a ‘soft authoritarianism’, if you will, whereby education ends up functioning in a counter-Enlightenment manner. Instead of individuals learning how to expand their powers over themselves and the wider world, they are being taught simply to discover and respect the limits of those powers.More.
In North America, it’s just not working very well. Yet, instead of hearing from people who want to find out honestly why it isn’t working, we keep hearing from researchers with gimcrack methods for getting us all to believe information when we distrust the source, often with good reason.
What the experts really need right now is a less survival-oriented human population.
See also: Steve Fuller: Brexit, the repudiation of experts and intelligent desire
Quotes to ponder: Education does not determine acceptance of science consensus
Prof claims to know how to slam dunk creationists