intellectuals as experts 29
Intellectuals as experts
Those who are charged with saying what counts as true
– Michel Foucault2
As I am writing this chapter, the news is heartbreaking: floods in
India, Nepal and Bangladesh displacing millions and killing thousands
– a taster of climate change to come; the resurgence of fears of nuclear
war and ill-chosen jokes about Armageddon from those who have
not experienced this fear as real; a US president who equates armed
neo-Nazis in Charlottesville with anti-fascist protesters and sanctions
police brutality; a
Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.
Albert Camus, The Plague
In times of crisis, the norm is to do what the experts tell us. In times of health crisis, listening to public health experts, and acting accordingly, becomes a rational and ethical imperative. After the outbreak of the most serious public health emergency in living memory, governments around the world are making decisions based on advice from public health experts, and all of us ‘ordinary’ citizens are told to
There's an old episode of Yes Minister where Jim Hacker is put in charge of making local government run more efficiently. 1 After a department meeting, one of the lower-ranking civil servants quietly comes up to him with a file of proposals. Hacker is impressed. He wonders why he hasn't met him before and asks why he is not more senior. The official responds with a resigned smile: ‘Alas, I'm an expert.’
Today, it's pretty much impossible to be both an expert and a leader
security forces turned security
advisors spend countless hours training aid workers on ‘how to manage
The policy advocated almost routinely by these experts can be summed up as
‘Pay, don’t say’. In the eyes of private security firms,
‘kidnapping can be reduced to a simple business negotiation’ 2 that requires the strictest
confidentiality. According to Alain Juillet, former intelligence director at the
been conceived as a triumph of reason and rationality over emotions. To the extent
it relies on emotions, it carefully directs them through curated narratives deployed
in the realisation of predetermined advocacy objectives ( Fernandes, 2017 : 2). With humanitarian actors increasingly
engaging in specific thematic issues and policy changes, they have privileged
authoritative facts that positions them as experts, enhancing their legitimacy in
the eyes of decision
, Russians and Iranians, and
between rebel and regime groups. All are extremely active online. Pro-regime Russian content
producers have created websites and attacked groups like the White Helmets, calling them
‘terrorists’ and dismissing stories about children killed by chemical attacks as
fake news featuring ‘actors’ ( Solon,
2017 ). In articles from all sides of the campaign, there are links to official-looking
reports and the biographies of experts that seem trustworthy. It can be very difficult to
discern the provenance of information or
Donald , W.
Supuran , C.
( 2020 ), ‘ A Deadly Spillover:
SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak ’, Expert Opinion on
Therapeutic Patents , 30 : 7 ,
481 – 5 , doi: 10.1080/13543776.2020.1760838 .
et al . ( 2021
order the series’.
Rockbrune accumulated an extensive knowledge of their work and activities. The attention of this shipping expert to the structure of the program, and his commitment to its goals, speak volumes about the ambitions and the meaning of the school development education during this period, and about the resources CIDA invested in its quality and sustainability. Still clear in Rockbrune’s memory were the routes of materials, the nature of the products on offer for each age group, the timing of publications’ updates and shipments, and the titles of
An Interview with Rainer Schlösser, Spokesperson of the Association of the Red Cross Museums in Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der deutschen Rotkreuz-Museen)
it costs money and you have to find qualified staff to do that.
SK: Speaking of staff and personnel, one thing I was wondering about is whether you work with professionals – museologists, trained museum staff, museum educators, and so on?
RS: This differs across German Red Cross museums. In our own case, here in Luckenwalde, we worked together with an expert from the regional museum association when we set up the museum. So we got a good deal of advice on how to organize exhibit spaces and so on. The director of the association is now also a member of our
counting practices form an increasingly larger part
of everyone’s workload, it also privileges certain types of expertise over
others. Since the 1990s, there has been a shift from experience-based opinion within
the humanitarian sector towards quantitative experts who practice auditing, deploy
accountancy and conduct numerical-based research ( Barnett, 2013 ; Beerli and Weissman,
The dominance of these quantitative experts has been demonstrated in the work that