The Extinction of 'The Expert'

The Extinction of 'The Expert'

We are constantly faced with decisions to make - what should I eat for a healthy breakfast? Which beauty product will stop me from getting wrinkles? Who should I vote for in a super-important referendum that will affect my children? We’re also faced with the often-crippling fact that in today’s highly individualised society, our decisions make us who we are. With facts, figures, statistics and expert opinions from apparently well-qualified specialists: there are masses of conflicting sources of what is right and what is true, often with the claim that it’s ‘science’. Has this meant that ‘experts’ and ‘science’ have lost their credibility because we live in an era of claims and counterclaims? Does anyone believe in ‘the truth’ anymore?

‘Science’ seems to have a lot to say in the beauty industry. Every skincare product on the shelf is ‘clinically proven to reduce wrinkles’ because some expert dermatologist has apparently said so. A recent study by the Valdosta State University in Georgia found that only 14% stood up to scrutiny. They found that much of the ‘science’ behind the products was vague and jargon-stuffed. Slap a big word in and say it’s science and they’ll believe it, seems to be the attitude of beauty marketers.

Take the EU referendum, were we to believe the Leave camp who said an out vote would mean a radical improvement for the NHS, or should we have believed the Remainers who were adamant that leaving the European Union would have devastating economic consequences? The reality thus far has been neither. None of the supposed ‘experts’, especially those at the frontline of the campaigns, have yet had the opportunity to say ‘I told you so’ and so the credibility of politicians (I’m looking at you BoJo...) has plummeted. Experts in politics surely shouldn’t get it wrong?!

It seems that the constant bombardment of information that we receive, whether from politicians or marketing companies, has made our decision-making processes considerably harder because we simply don’t know how to find the truth. Have we become a puddle of anxiety because we don’t know who to believe anymore? Decision-making is just one big gamble.

Alice Myers