Why You’re Not an Expert (And I’m Not Either…)
A Reaction to Sam Harris
Sam Harris commented for roughly ten minutes the other day on his latest podcast about why most people aren’t experts and why, therefore, we still need experts and institutions. I have a response.
Before getting into this, for those of you who don’t know who Sam Harris is, click HERE. Harris’s basic, brief biography goes as follows: Harris is a mid-fifties philosopher, atheist, neuroscientist, bestselling author and fairly famous podcaster. He has a PhD from UCLA, a BA from Stanford. He’s been doing his podcast, Making Sense, for roughly a decade. He got into the podcast game after a big flareup with Ben Affleck on Bill Maher’s show Real Time in 2014. Harris has been a stalwart of commonsense and finding middle ground between the two political extremes. Over the past near decade he’s been my #1 Go To for Rational Debate. (Lately he’s taken heat from the Right a la suppression by MSM of Hunter Biden’s laptop. A story for another time.)
Anyway, here is Harris’s latest podcast episode, which I am referring to. The first ten minutes address his commentary about expertise and institutions.
In a nutshell, and I am 100% paraphrasing here, this is what Harris says in those ten minutes: 1. Most people are not experts nor anything near experts on most if not all ideas. 2. #1 therefore indicates that we do in fact NEED actual experts, people who have high degrees and specialization in specific fields, who are actually qualified to speak on certain topics, especially topics of great societal importance which affect masses of human beings. 3. Yes, Free Speech is profoundly important, and yes, all platforms should exist for people to use openly, and yes, anyone is of course allowed to have and express a view, whatever that view may be. 4. However, given the proliferation of social media, Substack, Medium, Twitter, etc, and the mass followings of people such as Joe Rogan, Bret Weinstein, Tulsi Gabbard, etc etc, it’s important to grasp that likely millions of people allow their opinions and ideas to be shaped by the people mentioned above, and for the most part these people and many others are NOT qualified to make many of the unfounded claims they consistently make, whether that’s about mRNA vaccines, Covid generally, health, finance, biology, etc.