Tag: experts

Eisenhower’s Twin Warnings: Fresh as Today’s Headlines

 

I like Ike buttonWe live in a moment when both military and civilian “servants” act as masters of us all. President Eisenhower saw this threat clearly 60 years ago but was ignored by both left and right and by both major political parties. According to the presidential archives, Eisenhower conceived his farewell address as a short speech, about 10 minutes long. When he delivered it on television, on Jan. 17, 1961, it took 15 minutes. In 1960, 87% of American households had a television set, so this was experienced as a live address in people’s living rooms. The whole address is worth reading and watching. Sadly, even in the first years after President Eisenhower’s remarks, his memorable phrase “military-industrial complex” swallowed up attention to the other equal danger of which he warned: a civilian technical elite intertwined with government.

Here is President Eisenhower’s farewell address, as delivered. The transcript to the press did not capture Eisenhower’s changes, so I added in his handwritten changes, using italics, and struck through any words he struck through. Square brackets set off my brief remarks and the core of the speech, where the two great threats are identified and explained. The underlined words are original to Eisenhower’s reading copy. The documents are available online at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.

April Showers Bring . . . Godzilla?

 

Godzilla 1954What could possibly go wrong here? Japanese scientists, with the approval of government officials, will dispose of radioactive waste water from the decommissioned nuclear power plants at Fukuyama by dumping it in the Pacific Ocean. This is not from the Babylon Bee, nor is it a belated April Fool’s story. It is a tale of our time, playing on our distrust of asserted expertise and asserted public interest. The power of the story also depends on a belief in zero risk options, indeed of magical cake that all may enjoy while continuing to have. Oh, and the story has deep international cultural significance.

I ran across the story through InfoWars, hosting a ZeroHedge column. So, trust but verify. Strait Times? Check. Business Insider? Check. The Sun? Check.

The cooling water that has been accumulating at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan will be released into the Pacific Ocean after it has been treated to remove all harmful radioactive substances, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet decided yesterday.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome the news that West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin is opposing the nomination of Neera Tanden, President Biden’s choice for budget director, and two of the most moderate Republicans are already saying they’re voting against her as well. They also hammer California Democrat Ro Khanna, after the congressman says he doesn’t want small businesses that cannot afford to pay $15 per hour. And they follow the insane evolution of “the experts,” who are now saying that you will need to wear a mask long after the bulk of the population has been vaccinated.

Institutionalized Experts

 

“HANLON’S RAZOR: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” -– Murphy’s Law Book Two: More Reasons Why Things Go Wrong

Malice is a fun and easy explanation for the conduct of bureaucrats and politicians we dislike or distrust. Substituting stupidity for malice still lets us feel good in the moment. However, there are very senior experts in many fields within large organizations connected with networks of other large organizations, who are not stupid and who are not self-evidently malicious. Their conduct, when it seems to contradict observable facts and theory, might be better characterized as “institutionalized expertise.”

Member Post

 

During the COVID-19 shutdown, how many political leaders have claimed legitimacy because they are using the “Science and the Data”? For many people who crave certainty, the experts reassure them that they are receiving information they can rely on, in making the important daily decisions of their lives. As the lockdown continues in some states, […]

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Coronavirus and the Experts: Which Will Cause More Harm?

 

Experts – can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em! We need their expertise, but one expert will tell you one thing while another tells you the opposite. Sometimes the same expert will tell you opposite things at two different times. What the…?!

Take President Fauci – er, I mean, Dr. Fauci – for instance. That would be President Trump’s head honcho bigwig infectious disease doctor advising him on all things coronavirus. On January 26, this medical “expert” said during an interview on a radio program that, pertaining to the coronavirus, “It’s a very, very low risk to the United States.” That was his “expert” opinion at the time. Funny thing is, the last time I checked, the United States is now closed for business, lights out, curtains drawn, shut down until further notice. Presumably, either Dr. Fauci or some other equally brilliant “expert” will let us all know when it’s safe to go back to normal again – if indeed anything will ever be normal again.

David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America wade through the details of another horrific school shooting.  This time 17 people are dead at a high school in Florida.  They honor the heroes who saved students’ lives, including a football coach who died shielding kids from the gunfire.  They’re also frustrated that warning signs about this shooter were abundant, including expulsion and a ban from campus, yet little was done by law enforcement to address the problem.  And they discuss the tiresome Twitter rage in the wake of tragedies like this, with David pointing out that Twitter often proves that the supposed experts on an issue are actually quite clueless in their supposed area of expertise.

Today in False Choices: People Versus Profits

 

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 3.42.32 PMConsulting with corporations about the importance of putting “people before profits” is mutually beneficial to both corporation and speaker: the former is afforded cheap virtue and the latter an expensive lifestyle. In the world of speaking and corporate consulting, espousing the People-Before-Profits narrative — as with the virtues authenticity and diversity — is simply good business practice.

This value-for-value model is lost on the very same speakers who take it for granted that profits are suspect. These self-styled experts fail to see that, unlike President Obama’s facile description of the tension between liberty and security, the choice between people and profits is a false one. Yet companies throughout the United States are happy to self-flagellate before speaker after speaker, pretending to temporarily forget what reality will forever remind them: that profits are a darn good measure of the extent to which you have served others.

At the heart of the People-Before-Profits movement is an ambivalence about the dignity and morality of business. In popular culture, this idea is most evident in movies and on television, where businessmen are almost invariably portrayed as either moral bankrupts (Wall Street) or courageous heroes who unveil the moral bankruptcy of business (Michael Clayton).

Member Post

 

Most people understand that change, as such, is not a value. It’s a phenomenon, and it’s happening everywhere all the time whether we like it or not. William F. Buckley famously described a conservative as someone who stands athwart history shouting “Stop!” The merits of doing so can be debated, but at least the proposition makes […]

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Member Post

 

That change can be good or bad was once so well understood as to be axiomatic. Previous generations, naturally, were no strangers to change. But the notion that change is good in and of itself is an entirely new idea. It’s also a very lucrative one. I once attended a workshop for speakers which confirmed […]

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