The Death of Expertise

The Death of Expertise

American Thinker

J.B. Shurk

If you value truth, ignore the "experts."  Most aren't really expert at much.  They prefer titles to original thoughts — and the more titles they insist on announcing, the more likely they seek nobility, not knowledge.  They could more accurately be called "opinion connoisseurs."  They are experts in fashionable opinion and possess an insatiable need to tell everyone else just what the very best people are supposed to believe.

The "experts" told us that COVID came from a wet market, that two weeks of isolation would flatten the curve, that lockdowns posed few health risks, that closed schools posed few developmental harms, that masks prevented transmission, that natural immunity provided no protection, that "vaccines" provided total protection, and that those same untested and experimental injections caused no serious side effects.  The "experts" were wrong, but they held the most fashionable opinions.

The "experts" told us that Obamacare wouldn't raise health care costs, that a random YouTube video caused the 9/11 Benghazi attack, that Hillary's unsecured private email server containing classified material was no big deal, that Donald Trump was a Russian spy, that the Steele dossier was something more than Clinton campaign propaganda, that a Trump presidency would bring economic depression and global war, that the Biden family had no financial interests in Ukraine or China, that Hunter Biden's laptop was Russian disinformation, that mail-in ballot dumps without signature matching or other verifiable security checks were perfectly normal, and that the 2016 election was rigged — but that calling the 2020 election "rigged" is an attack on democracy.  The "experts" were wrong, but they held the most fashionable opinions.

The "experts" told us that the Duke lacrosse team raped a young black woman; that pleading, "Hands up, don't shoot," gets black men killed; that the Fort Hood Islamic terror attack was workplace violence; that the Pulse nightclub Islamic terror attack was anti-gay violence; that Covington Catholic High School students harassed a Native American elder; that MAGA thugs assaulted Jussie Smollett for being black and gay; that vigilante racists bullied Bubba Wallace with a planted noose; that Kyle Rittenhouse's defense of his life constituted murder; that Border Patrol agents whipped Haitians for illegally entering the country; that "black lives matter" but "all lives" don't; that being woke is good but that calling the woke "woke" is racist.  The "experts" were wrong, but they held the most fashionable opinions.

The "experts" told us that inflation was transitory, that the Green New Deal would lower energy prices, that trillions in new government spending costs nothing in taxes, and that Joe Biden's crippling recession reflects economic strength.  They told us that free speech is dangerous; that disinformation governance boards don't promote government propaganda; and that government agencies' blacklisting of news sites, social media content, and public dissent is something other than unconstitutional censorship.  They told us that border walls don't work, that skyrocketing illegal immigration is imaginary, that drug-traffickers aren't killing record numbers of Americans, that illegal aliens cost American taxpayers nothing, and that concern for border security is racist.  They told us that the deadly retreat from Afghanistan was a humanitarian success; that NATO has a military obligation to defend non-NATO Ukraine; that Russia blew up its own Nord Stream natural gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea; that fighting a lethal proxy war with Russia won't increase the likelihood of nuclear conflagration; and that escalating hostilities with Russia, China, and North Korea won't risk sparking World War III.  The "experts" were wrong again and again, but they held the most fashionable opinions.

At some point, doesn't every thinking person have to step back and ask, "If 'experts' are so wrong so much of the time, then isn't it more apt to call them 'expert deceivers' than pursuers of truth?"  When fashionable opinion is held in higher esteem than honest observation, and unvarnished candor is obscured behind "politically correct" pablum, then official truth is but a ruse built on lies and propaganda.

A recent story in The Epoch Times begins, "Republican lawmakers are expressing alarm over Beijing's persistent efforts to use Western outlets to spread its narratives," but if Republican officials are shocked about the Chinese Communist Party's predilection for disseminating falsehoods, they will be downright flabbergasted once they discover what kinds of cockamamie fictions American officials regularly let loose.  Do they really not know, or are they just upset that China's prevarications threaten their own?

If the state of Washington is any indication, it is the latter.  In a 1984-esque plan that would empower a thirteen-member commission to combat "domestic extremism" by collecting information on and tracking citizens who have committed no crimes, "[c]itizens would be encouraged to report friends and neighbors to the state for officially-banned phrases, thoughts, and expressions."  By filling the commission with politically aligned representatives of discrete identity groups who will "ensure data is not disproportionately used against black, indigenous, and [other] people of color," Washington's new Star Chamber would "decide whose words and whose speech would be subject to criminal prosecution" and when police should "increase surveillance of citizens for perceived violations of words and speech prohibitions."  Among the many subjects that the commission's proponents designate for future targeting, "election fraud narratives," "anti-mask and anti-vaccine narratives," "anti-critical race theory narratives," and "anti-LGBTQ 'grooming' narratives" are all highlighted.  As Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center correctly concludes, what is being constructed is nothing less than a "state-level Ministry of Truth."  Of course, it will be filled with celebrated "experts" well versed in the most fashionable opinions of our time.

Truth pushes no agenda, nor does it require special protections to win out.  If wearing dresses made men women, then they wouldn't need leftist lawmakers to police online speech for "hate."  If medical science pursued objective knowledge free from political influence, then it wouldn't need to penalize competing points of view.  If climate researchers scrutinized data free from monetary and ideological influences, then they wouldn't need to censor scholarship conflicting with their grand theories.  If the American government truly respected democratic norms and free expression, then it wouldn't fear rigorous debate, nor feel compelled to label dissent "extremism."  When self-described "experts" are so threatened by the thoughts and words of those deemed "non-experts" that unapproved language is made a crime, then expertise is just a racket protected by the threat of force.

In times such as these, when powerful organs of the State set their sights on squashing free expression and public dissent, brave artists of all media have been known to unleash such relentless and subversive critiques of encroaching government tyranny as to give the people a fighting chance.  For the time being, though, it seems, art is dead; the "narrative" is now king.

Most prime-time television shows extol federal agencies.  Galleries and musicians trumpet talking points from the State.  Writers actually lead "politically correct" legions' bowdlerizing efforts to censor and destroy prior works.  Too many former artists have allowed their minds to be corrupted by propaganda.  Too many former freethinkers have not only slunk away into the shadows, but also cannot be bothered to stealthily lift a finger in quiet opposition.  Right now, while free speech is under vigorous attack from so-called "experts," those who should be fighting back prefer their titles of nobility to their capacity for original ideas.

From Renaissance men to specialized cogs, when those with real expertise allow themselves to be bullied by those with none, free expression becomes State suppression.  Opinion connoisseurs replace those with educated opinions.  Freethinkers become enslaved mimics.  Those who will not speak up now will suffer in silence when it's too late.

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