Minor Thoughts from me to you

How Often Can You Trust The Experts?

How Often Can You Trust The Experts? →

Ira Stoll, writing for Reason.com, points out that the experts are often wrong.

So, of the 60 baseball “experts” in total, not a single one of them picked the Red Sox to win the American League pennant. Only one of the 60 picked the Cardinals to win the National League pennant.

You would have been better off throwing darts at a dartboard than you would have been listening to the baseball “experts.” The Wall Street Journal used to demonstrate this in a regular column in which stocks picked by throwing darts randomly often outperformed the selections of Wall Street professionals who were even more highly compensated than ESPN journalists.

Complex systems are hard to predict.

That doesn’t mean we should ignore all experts. But it does mean we should routinely treat their predictions with the skepticism they deserve. This goes for predictions from experts preferred by the political left, who warn that the sea level rise from global warming is going to leave us all under water, and for predictions from experts preferred by the political right, who warn that the future cost of entitlement programs is going to leave us all under water.

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan for the future, whether on entitlements, or the threat of global warming. But what planning we do should take into account the possibility that the experts will be wrong.

Exactly. I do trust experts when they're giving advice about what to do in response to what we know is happening right now. I'm far more distrustful when they're prognosticating about what might happen later and what we should do to prepare for that potential future. In fact, given how often expert predictions are wrong, I think blindly following their advice about potential futures might be worse than blindly ignoring their advice about potential futures.

This entry was tagged. Regulation