Misleading pictures

This past week I’ve been at the Gordon Research Conference on Science and Technology Policy.  It’s really a great conference with a nice mix of academics and practitioners.  I’d discuss more here, but it’s unfortunately off-the-record.  I could try make the case that given my underwhelming readership, my blog should qualify as off-the-record, but I don’t think it’d fly.  Oh well, such is life.

I will say that I just had some very fruitful discussions on Rethinking Expertise, which I just gave a glowing review.   Definitely gave me some perspective on how the work is viewed  by people in the field.

My earlier post neglected to mention another reason I liked the book.   On page 51, EC noted that the failure to wrestle properly with expertise gives a “misleading picture of the power of logical thought and experimental genius.”  In light of my views on scientific thinking, this message had special appeal.  Ultimately content knowledge and specific expertise matters much more than an amorphous, poorly defined method of thinking.

Now resolving the problems of expertise won’t necessarily make contentious debates any easier.  Climate change and genetically modified crops are contentious for reasons deeper than a misunderstanding of expertise.  But addressing the misconceptions might be a useful place to start.

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