Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘Following The Science’: Rule by Models and Experts

 

Lately, we have been preached to a lot about “following the science” by some people who have consistently accepted only the “science” which seems to reinforce their own worldview. At times in the past, we have “followed the science” down a path leading to both failure and death.

In this country, the drift toward “progressivism” more or less began with the proclaimed need to have “experts” be in charge of the major decisions of society. The world had just become too complicated, too advanced to allow the individual whims of uninformed masses to have dominant sway over critical issues. Things would just run better for everyone if we turned from the individualism on which we were founded in the first place. Top-down decisions for everyone by the experts of each concern were to be the answer to the future.

You do, of course, recall the “science” of eugenics? Only a small amount of research will show you an array of celebrated masters of science in the early 20th century who saw this as a true science and not just the wave of the future, but its best for hope human society. Of course, some us more basic types would have considered it to be little more than selective breeding of human beings – as well as plain discrimination against those deemed unworthy of taking part in the process. Naturally “experts” were able to create “models” which made it easy to decide whose bloodlines would be allowed to continue in this upgrade. It was, after all, the best for everyone. Well, almost everyone.

One of the practical tools of carrying out this enlightened improvement of mankind was abortion. So you see, the term eugenics might not be heard much today but parts of its model are still “following the science.”

Actually models were hardly new things even at the beginning of the 20th century. Simply take the time to read, or re-read, Machiavelli’s The Prince. It certainly is a model for developing and holding political power. But even that was hardly new. Machiavellian method was taken from studying all the regimes and monarchies that had come before. It was a “model” formed on the best information available. Or, at least, the “information” that the model designer was most comfortable with.

We raised a generation who fear “climate change” more than welfare socialism. Model after model fashioned by experts have warned of one disaster after another, all “just around the corner.” When we held the first Earth Day in 1970, the expert’s model assured us that millions upon millions were sure to die in the coming ice age. And, of course, by then we would have run completely out of oil so better have the axes ready!

But by 1989, the United Nations had a whole team of experts whose model proved we only had 10 years left to “solve” global warming. As it has turned out since, the warming deal has not quite worked out. So the emphasis has switched to the more general “climate change.” This way both ice ages and burning deserts can easily fall inside the model. After a short while, it was decided that even this general term was a little too plain sounding and might not be impressive enough for the unlettered so “Anthropogenic Climate Change” was been the “in” term. It simply means “man-made” but does have the ring of expert science to it.

The media was assured by experts in 2008 that both Miami and New York City could be underwater by 2015. “Science” accepted by the popular media tells us that it is acceptable for “transgenders” to be on the same sports field with those players who have blindly accepted the sex assigned them by nature.

For those of us who have to live and survive in the real world “following the science” consists of knowing and considering all of the provable information that we can have on any one subject. In the practical sense, a model is little more than a prediction based on whatever information is used. The information may be complete – or not. In most cases, it is not since it is very hard to know everything about anything (was that too tangled a phrase?). That is especially true with a developing situation. It may well be ever-changing. That is certainly true today.

It is also true that the decisions of a society have more than one dimension. Always. Therefore, any expert in any one field cannot have the complete answer to the question. Experts are for consultation. They advise the decision-makers. It is always wise to consult more than one “expert.” The odds of any one of them being completely right are very small – if not zero.

It was wisely decided long ago that this was to be a society, a nation, which would not be ruled by self-appointed experts or their models. All may have contributions to make in the decisions made. But we have leaders chosen by the people, answerable to the people, who have that terrible responsibility.

In my mostly unsophisticated (and wandering) mind, I wondered what it would have looked like if those disgruntled colonists of 1775 would have consulted the experts about the wisdom of facing up to the most developed military power of the age over some infractions of personal rights. What if their model had shown several long years of war, of periods of literally brother against brother and son against father, of death and struggle, of gut-wrenching decisions, of lost fortunes and of the trials of forming a government the likes of which had never appeared on the earth before? How many would have continued on the path which led past Lexington to Yorktown to a Constitution which truly is a “shining city on the hill” for the rest of the world?

Those disgruntled colonists first defined their purpose. They knew tribulations were to come. They just didn’t know exactly what they would be. Decisions don’t rely solely on data. They must first rely on direction and purpose. Data is not to be ignored. It is to be considered. But it is not the key to who you are. Or what you aspire to be.

One of the great tools of tyranny has always been unreasoned panic. It can cause a person, a group, or even a nation to forget purpose while grasping for momentary and imagined safety, while it is purpose which actually makes them worthwhile as either a person or a nation.

These are a few of the varied directions of my reflections for the last few days as I work to put a more understandable finish on them. But I do know that regardless of what decisions we make as individuals or as a nation if we leave behind our called purpose, we have lost far more than lives.

I also understand that panic and fear without reflection have caused some to favor closing churches while opening jails in the name of our momentary safety. That in itself is enough to cause us pause. Sometimes a good, deep breath and some clarity of purpose are the beginning of the best model.

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  1. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    It was decided originally that we all greatest expert in the subject of ourselves. To those that say trust in the experts, they really should say trust in the individual.

    • #1
    • April 5, 2020, at 7:17 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  2. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Some of the best common-sense reasoning I’ve read in a long time. Thank you @olesummers!

    • #2
    • April 5, 2020, at 7:18 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Full Size Tabby Member

    I have some expertise in intellectual property law. In the corporate world in which I was employed I repeatedly had to deal with lawyers who reported to me (and were more expert in their area of work than I was) who were upset that some business executive wasn’t taking the action that the lawyer thought most prudent. I kept pointing out that although to the lawyer (legal expert) the legal risks are foremost in our minds, the business executive is also hearing from the marketing experts, the engineering experts, the manufacturing experts, the distribution experts, the finance experts, etc., all of whom may be making conflicting or even contradictory recommendations. The business executive’s job is to balance all the competing expert recommendations to make a decision that is overall best for the company. Always following only the recommendations of one of the experts will lead to bad decisions overall. 

    One executive also reminded me that I was advising him from the perspective of being inside our company, but that his counterpart at our competitor was being advised by my counterpart in that company, a legal expert whose perspective was influenced by the fact that he or she was inside the other company. Even experts in the same field, but sitting in different positions, can have different, even conflicting, views.

    • #3
    • April 6, 2020, at 8:22 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Rodin Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    I have some expertise in intellectual property law. In the corporate world in which I was employed I repeatedly had to deal with lawyers who reported to me (and were more expert in their area of work than I was) who were upset that some business executive wasn’t taking the action that the lawyer thought most prudent. I kept pointing out that although to the lawyer (legal expert) the legal risks are foremost in our minds, the business executive is also hearing from the marketing experts, the engineering experts, the manufacturing experts, the distribution experts, the finance experts, etc., all of whom may be making conflicting or even contradictory recommendations. The business executive’s job is to balance all the competing expert recommendations to make a decision that is overall best for the company. Always following only the recommendations of one of the experts will lead to bad decisions overall.

    One executive also reminded me that I was advising him from the perspective of being inside our company, but that his counterpart at our competitor was being advised by my counterpart in that company, a legal expert whose perspective was influenced by the fact that he or she was inside the other company. Even experts in the same field, but sitting in different positions, can have different, even conflicting, views.

    Just so. During my career I was in positions of advisor, and later, decider. As an advisor I was always more certain than when I was a decider. 

    • #4
    • April 6, 2020, at 9:01 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Every human being has agency and is constantly working to improve his position in terms of his circumstance. Sometimes an individual will have an incorrect assessment of what to do; most of the time an individual has a better assessment of his own situation than the expert. It is simply not possible to construct a model that takes all of this into account. Therefore just about every model based on human activity falls apart at some level. It is simply not possible to capture all that information, process it in a way that is intelligible and package it into something usable. This is way groups that try to govern by models i.e. Communist Governments, Bureaucratic Agencies, UN officials, Development experts almost always get it wrong. 

     

    • #5
    • April 6, 2020, at 10:56 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. David Foster Member
    David Foster Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    I have some expertise in intellectual property law. In the corporate world in which I was employed I repeatedly had to deal with lawyers who reported to me (and were more expert in their area of work than I was) who were upset that some business executive wasn’t taking the action that the lawyer thought most prudent. I kept pointing out that although to the lawyer (legal expert) the legal risks are foremost in our minds, the business executive is also hearing from the marketing experts, the engineering experts, the manufacturing experts, the distribution experts, the finance experts, etc., all of whom may be making conflicting or even contradictory recommendations. The business executive’s job is to balance all the competing expert recommendations to make a decision that is overall best for the company.

    Yes. It is rarely the case that the decision-maker is the expert in all the specialties involved in the decision. Any CEO or General Manager who has multiple functions reporting to him…sales, engineering, manufacturing, etc…is quite likely to get different views from each of them with regard to just about any situation.

    I’ve written before about the problems of decision-making when the decision-maker is not the expert. A classic case was that of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who at the last moment got cold feet at the prospect of a two-front war. The Kaiser called in chief of staff von Moltke, and told him to turn around the troops destined for the attack in the west, and redirect them to the eastern front. Barbara Tuchman writes of Moltke’s reaction.

    “Aghast at the thought of his marvelous mobilization wrenched into reverse, Moltke refused point-blank. For ten years, first as assistant to Schlieffen, then as his successor, Moltke’s job had been planning for this day, The Day, Der Tag, for which all Germany’s energies were gathered, on which the march to final mastery of Europe would begin. It weighed upon him with an oppressive, almost unbearable responsibility…Now, on the climactic night of August 1, Moltke was in no mood for any more of the Kaiser’s meddling with serious military matters.

    “Your majesty,” Moltke said “it cannot be done. The deployment of millions cannot be improvised…Those arrangements took a whole year of intricate labor to complete…and once settled, it cannot be altered.”

    “Your uncle would have given me a different answer,” the Kaiser said to him bitterly.”

    Yet the actual railway expert, General von Staab, was not consulted, and after the war he wrote a book demonstrating that he could, in fact, have redirected things as the Kaiser wished.

    More here:

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/57755.html

    • #6
    • April 6, 2020, at 12:30 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. David Foster Member
    David Foster Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Another example of decision-making when the decision-maker is not a technical expert is the case of air defense strategy in pre-WWII Britain. Sir Henry Tizard wanted the emphasis placed on radar; Frederick Lindemann (close friend of Churchill) wanted equal emphasis placed on infrared detection and on the bizarre technology of parachute mines. Relations between the two men had become so angry that if the air defense committee was to continue functioning, one of them would have to go. The decision-maker was Lord Swinton, the air minister: he was by background a lawyer, with a specialty in mining law.

    I wrote about this interesting case here: Radar Wars–A Case Study in Science and Government

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/41262.html

    A primary source for that post was C P Snow’s book Science and Government, in which he wrote:

    One of the most bizarre features of any advanced industrial society in our time is that the cardinal choices have to be made by a handful of men: in secret: and, at least in legal form, by men who cannot have a first-hand knowledge of what those choices depend upon or what their results may be…and when I say the “cardinal choices,” I mean those that determine in the crudest sense whether we live or die.

    (although, in our current coronavirus case, the ‘in secret’ part of this should not apply….yet it often seems to, as for several of the models to results are being released but not the models themselves.

    • #7
    • April 6, 2020, at 12:35 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Taras Coolidge

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Every human being has agency and is constantly working to improve his position in terms of his circumstance. Sometimes an individual will have an incorrect assessment of what to do; most of the time an individual has a better assessment of his own situation than the expert. It is simply not possible to construct a model that takes all of this into account. Therefore just about every model based on human activity falls apart at some level. It is simply not possible to capture all that information, process it in a way that is intelligible and package it into something usable. This is way groups that try to govern by models i.e. Communist Governments, Bureaucratic Agencies, UN officials, Development experts almost always get it wrong.

     

    Sounds like you’ve rediscovered Austrian School economics!

    Add to that, the expert himself is one of those human beings who is “constantly working to improve his position in terms of his circumstance.“

    Ultimately, the advice he gives you is for his benefit, not yours.

    As Scott Adams pointed out in a recent podcast, during this crisis we have discovered that the experts were lying to us when they told us not to wear facemasks, and probably lying to us when they told us not to use hydroxychloroquine.

    In both cases their goal was not to tell the truth, but to prevent a run on these particular items.

    Recently on Ricochet, various people (including me) have suggested that the authorities have intentionally blurred the statistics on mortality from coronavirus, to conceal from younger people the fact that they are being quarantined primarily for the benefit of us oldsters.

    • #8
    • April 6, 2020, at 1:44 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Experts have expertise in one specific field usually, sometimes more than one field.

    Predictions are a completely different matter.

    No matter how smart or knowledgeable you are, no one has a crystal ball that works.

     

     

    • #9
    • April 6, 2020, at 1:46 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Taras (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Sounds like you’ve rediscovered Austrian School economics!

    Add to that, the expert himself is one of those human beings who is “constantly working to improve his position in terms of his circumstance.“

    Ultimately, the advice he gives you is for his benefit, not yours.

    As Scott Adams pointed out in a recent podcast, during this crisis we have discovered that the experts were lying to us when they told us not to wear facemasks, and probably lying to us when they told us not to use hydroxychloroquine.

    In both cases their goal was not to tell the truth, but to prevent a run on these particular items.

    Recently on Ricochet, various people (including me) have suggested that the authorities have intentionally blurred the statistics on mortality from coronavirus, to conceal from younger people the fact that they are being quarantined primarily for the benefit of us oldsters.

    Actually I have pretty much always been in the Austrian School of economics, at least since I discovered that Macro Economics makes very little sense. On to your more important point however which is true. I suspect you are correct about facemasks. Hydroxychloroquine I suspect is a case of falling back to old habits. i.e. It hasn’t been proven effective therefore we aren’t going to recommend it. Doesn’t help that Trump touted it, which caused the predictable anti-Trump backlash that is now a reflex in our elite and expert classes. The truth is the epidemiologist and the public health professional have a lot of power right now. They are likely working to enhance that, not that I think they are intentional giving advice they don’t believe in but, power is very seductive.

    • #10
    • April 6, 2020, at 2:07 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Taras (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Sounds like you’ve rediscovered Austrian School economics!

    Add to that, the expert himself is one of those human beings who is “constantly working to improve his position in terms of his circumstance.“

    Ultimately, the advice he gives you is for his benefit, not yours.

    As Scott Adams pointed out in a recent podcast, during this crisis we have discovered that the experts were lying to us when they told us not to wear facemasks, and probably lying to us when they told us not to use hydroxychloroquine.

    In both cases their goal was not to tell the truth, but to prevent a run on these particular items.

    Recently on Ricochet, various people (including me) have suggested that the authorities have intentionally blurred the statistics on mortality from coronavirus, to conceal from younger people the fact that they are being quarantined primarily for the benefit of us oldsters.

    Actually I have pretty much always been in the Austrian School of economics, at least since I discovered that Macro Economics makes very little sense. On to your more important point however which is true. I suspect you are correct about facemasks. Hydroxychloroquine I suspect is a case of falling back to old habits. i.e. It hasn’t been proven effective therefore we aren’t going to recommend it. Doesn’t help that Trump touted it, which caused the predictable anti-Trump backlash that is now a reflex in our elite and expert classes. The truth is the epidemiologist and the public health professional have a lot of power right now. They are likely working to enhance that, not that I think they are intentional giving advice they don’t believe in but, power is very seductive.

    talking to the press makes everyone stupider

     

    • #11
    • April 6, 2020, at 2:25 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Unsk Member

    The rise of the Administrative State enabled by some truly ghastly and grossly unconstitutional Supreme Court decisions in the 30’s have led to a granting of near overriding authority to the Federal bureaucracy. These decisions granted these agencies with the power to not only write regulations and legislation, but to enforce them and to judge those who they deem to have not sufficiently followed their unconstitutional edicts. This has allowed Federal agencies like the FDA, CDC and NIH to rule almost unchallenged and to come down very hard on those citizens that come under their purview.

    Suffice to say, any body that is put in a position of unchallenged authority will generally quickly become corrupt and will rule abusively. Lord Acton’s dictum ‘ Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely” definitely applies to our Federal Agencies.

    So those who demand that we slavishly follow the dictates of our Federal Health agencies without question perhaps need to re-consider their point of view. 

    • #12
    • April 6, 2020, at 4:33 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Unsk (View Comment):

    The rise of the Administrative State enabled by some truly ghastly and grossly unconstitutional Supreme Court decisions in the 30’s have led to a granting of near overriding authority to the Federal bureaucracy. These decisions granted these agencies with the power to not only write regulations and legislation, but to enforce them and to judge those who they deem to have not sufficiently followed their unconstitutional edicts. This has allowed Federal agencies like the FDA, CDC and NIH to rule almost unchallenged and to come down very hard on those citizens that come under their purview.

    Suffice to say, any body that is put in a position of unchallenged authority will generally quickly become corrupt and will rule abusively. Lord Acton’s dictum ‘ Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely” definitely applies to our Federal Agencies.

    So those who demand that we slavishly follow the dictates of our Federal Health agencies without question perhaps need to re-consider their point of view.

    the unelected 4th branch of govt

     

    • #13
    • April 6, 2020, at 4:44 PM PDT
    • Like
  14. Max Ledoux Admin

    Models continue to be wrong. Meantime Trump-haters didn’t like that Trump made a joke about models.

    • #14
    • April 6, 2020, at 6:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):

    Models continue to be wrong. Meantime Trump-haters didn’t like that Trump made a joke about models.

    In case people were confused about pandemic models vs human models

     

    • #15
    • April 6, 2020, at 6:22 PM PDT
    • 1 like