So-called Experts, Lies, and the Selling of Opinions
The world seems to be bursting at the seams with experts. If you see any of the media’s recent reporting you will undoubtedly come across statements attributed to an expert or many experts. These statements infer fact or truth and often times misleads the public into believing that because the expert says it, it must be true or because I agree it must be true, or because it requires less from me then of course it’s true. There are political experts, economic experts, legal experts, and even sports experts. I believe that the prevalence of expert testimony is dangerous and irresponsible, and the organizations that use these “experts” are doing a great disservice to their customers. Let’s look at these experts in ascending order of importance and try to understand their purpose, motivation, and methods.
Sports experts are the pundits, reports, commentators, and analysts. (Note: for discussion purposes I am not including the professionals that actually work for sports teams or athletes) These sports experts are employed by newspapers, television and radio networks, and websites are even getting in on this silliness.
The stated purpose of the sports expert is to give insight into what has, is, or will happen, they are to add perspective and opinion, with zeal and demonstrative tone and demeanor. In English that means that they are supposed to tell you what you saw, tell you how you should feel about it, and why it is that you should feel that way. These guys are employed because these leagues and their corporate media partners need to control their product and they do this by creating narratives and advising their employees (experts) that they should not be overly critical of the rules, they are there to sell the rules and the game as authentic. These sports experts are no better that the announcers from professional wrestling who are there to convince you that it’s real.
The sports experts use inaccurate and biased analogies, anecdotes, references, and speculation along with their unobstructed and unfiltered access to the airwaves, and print.
Evidence? Black Quarterbacks are always spoken of in terms of other Black Quarterbacks, Cam Newton is JaMarcus Russell (I suppose this is because they dislike Mr. Newton and not because JaMarcus has a history of moving the chains with his legs) or Dirk Nowitzki is the next Larry Bird, or Mr. Nowitzki is the best foreign-born player ever (I guess this is because Dirk is as prolific of a three-point shooter and tenacious/fearless player as Mr. Bird was, and because Mr. Olajuwon’s Nigeria is not a separate country, but instead a part of Alabama or Mississippi) just shameful.
Legal experts are the people who appear on Court TV, Nancy Grace, and other shows and network that attempt to tell the public as to what’s happening in regards to legal matters that happen to have captured the interest of the public, whether naturally or forced. The legal expert is or was an attorney and acts as paid media consultants/commentators.
The purpose of the legal expert is to argue, take any side of an issue and argue from that perspective. They give opinion based on the perspective they are arguing from, what’s funny is that they don’t care which side they are arguing only who is writing the check and how many zeros are on it.
Money, they know both sides of the legal issue and are ready to argue for the highest bidder.
The legal expert uses their knowledge of the law, showmanship, presentation, and persuasion to influence others to believe that their argument is the correct argument.
Evidence? Nancy Grace!
Economic experts come from all walks of life and include reporters, business people, economists, financiers, real estate investors, and others. The economic expert is one who assumes that they understand economics and that economics is a real science. These experts are driven by the agenda of their employers (radio/tv/print) and much like the legal expert they will take the opinion of their benefactor.
The purpose of the economic expert is to make statements to support the assertions of their benefactors. They are to attempt to influence your opinion and to persuade you to see things from their perspective.
The economic expert utilizes hyperbole, inaccurate anecdotes, misguided common sense, attitude, and threats. Doom and gloom are the economic experts friend, they want you to believe that if x, y, and z don’t happen you are going to be living in a van down by the river eating cat food while smelling like a mixture of hippy funk and hot garbage. Evidence? Are you not paying attention? If we don’t cut taxes we are all going to be unemployed.
Political experts are by far my favorite group of experts, because they are the most outspoken, self contradicting, nonsensical, ill-informed, and biased, BS artists on the face of the earth. Political experts make sports experts look like valedictorian and saints. Political experts are the people who either in print, or radio, or tv tell people what they opponent meant and why he hates America. The political expert is the one that says that if you don’t believe this that and the other you are un-American. The political expert is the one that completely understands the prejudices of his party’s constituencies and does not mind feeding them to fuel water cooler talk. The political expert’s logic is almost always flawed and can be proven wrong with a few point questions. However the political expert knows this and he also knows that the people who believe him don’t care and they don’t want to listen to reason.
To attract as many registered voters to their side of the argument. To mislead, spin, or otherwise tell the public what to think, how to feel, and what to do about it.
Money and Power.
The political expert will use any and all means necessary to drive their agenda. They will use fear, prejudice, bias, stupidity, misinformation, and distrust, to meet their goal. Evidence? George W Bush’s campaigns use of misleading telephone ads against John McCain, saying he fathered an illegitimate Black Daughter, when in fact he adopted an Asian daughter. Then there are the birthers, tea partiers, and the likes.
The danger with experts is that they sell their knowledge and use their position or stature to spew their version of the truth or facts. They are beholden to the highest bidder and will advocate for anything so long as the money is right. They do not have any loyalties other than to themselves. During the OJ trial the defense and prosecution put forth “experts” and often to discuss the same evidence and they almost always contradicted each other. Why did they contradict each other? Because they checks were coming from different people. There is no truth or facts when the determining factor of whether something is true or false is money.
Why would someone pay an expert to influence your decision-making? Because it’s profitable! If Michael Jordan can sell you shoes for $150 dollars, and Bob Dole can sell Viagra, and George Forman can sell grills, then there is certainly power in persuasion and money to be made by influencing the public. Is this wrong? No! However, it is scary that our society has produces such a large group of non thinking followers who simply follow the crowd and go with the flow. We have been reduced to consumers that will buy what we are told to buy and when to buy it. Critical thinking in America is dying and as it dies so does America.