The accuracy of expert advice is something nearly all of us take for granted. This applies to recommendations on everything from medicine to preparing our taxes. Most of us automatically assume that the people giving this advice always know what they're talking about. Fortunately for the rest of us though, David Freedman isn't most like most people.
In his new book, 'Wrong: Why Experts* Keep Failing Us...' , Freedman discusses the shortcomings of expert advice, ironically, only the way that an expert can.
It's scary to think that nearly 70% of studies presented in the world's top medical journals are debunked within a few years of being published, or that up to 90% of what your family doctor learned in medical school is now known to be incorrect.
These are things that we all take for granted. So much so, Freedman points out, imaging scans show that we literally stop using our brains to think as strongly for ourselves when faced with the gospel of expert advice.
Part of what makes it so difficult to critically processes the advice of many so-called experts is their tendency to project themselves as infallible, larger than life pseudo-celebrities. This confidence is a big part of what makes them so charismatic and easy to trust. Unfortunately, charm isn't exactly a good indication of competency or trustworthiness.
In a recent interview with TIME magazine, Freedman also comments on the tendency of experts to ignore information that contradicts their desired result . He claims that this isn't just a frequent occurrence, but rather an unspoken sort of norm.
As Freedman puts it:
"Scientists and other experts are human beings, they want to advance their careers, they have families to support, and what do you know, they tend to get the answers they chase."
He also makes a point to comment on the lack of community wide checks and balances to ensure that data isn't manipulated before it's made available to others. It's a scary thing to think about considering how much stock both the general public and the greater scientific community put into this information.
What Can You Do to Avoid Bad Expert Advice?
When it comes to listening to the experts, in many ways our hands are tied. After all, we can't all know everything about everything, now can we? The most important thing we can do to protect ourselves from bad advice is to think carefully about how accurate the information we're given seems. If in doubt, search out additional information, and of course look into the credentials of the experts that you decide are worth listening to.
I wanted to publish this just to let people know to take responsibility for researching things in their lives before just believing what they are told. For example: If people took the time to research the negative effects of GMO foods, microwaves, vaccines, baby formulas, harmful foods, chemicals and other damaging toxins before consuming and using them, we would live in a much healthier and cleaner world.
*Scientists, finance wizards, doctors, relationship gurus,
celebrity CEOs, health officials and more
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.