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Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Anti-Expert Economy

Alvin and Heidi Toffler [Future Shock -- remember it?] have recently written a column for the Tribune Services about the anti-expert revolution.

The revolt has no name, but it has an ideology: anti-expertism.
We are seeing this revolt brewing across the world, in a strange collection of places: a doctor's office here, a supermarket there, and even in governor's mansions.
They relate this revolution to some work on credentialism done by my friend, socionomologist Ben Singer:

Closely tied to this revolt against expertise-ism is a mounting suspicion of credentials -- the criteria that separates experts in a field from the rest of us.

... Criterial systems, Singer notes, often encourage professionals such as academics and physicians to falsify credentials.

... Today, people are on to this system. With more information of their own, made available by the new knowledge-delivery technologies, we are better able to judge competence without an intermediary to tell us whom to trust. At least, that is what many of the anti-expertise rebels believe.

In short, the old system is facing a legitimation crisis, a crisis of authority. By puncturing the monopoly of experts over information and criterial systems, people are seeking to become their own authorities.

Makes sense to me. It is fairly easy to check almost anything on the internet.
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