Experts in a Time of Unreason

Sarah Hoyt has an interesting essay on her experience of becoming a United States citizen. This comment caught my eye:

Part of the thing with Europe is the worship of the “experts.”  “We’ll take it to the expert” or “We’ll have the expert do it.”

Yet, when the experts get it wrong, even when the expert opinion is that they cannot get it right all the time or even most of the time, they are vilified, scapegoated, and even convicted of manslaughter.

Claudio Eva, who was sentenced on Monday along with five other scientists and a government official over the earthquake in 2009 that killed more than 300 people and levelled the city of L’Aquila, said the verdict was an “eye for an eye”.

The ruling by a court in the shattered city, which defied the commonly held view that earthquakes cannot be predicted, has prompted outrage from the world’s scientific community.

More here: The deeper issues behind Italy’s conviction of earthquake scientists

Europe has a deep tradition for holding individuals responsible for things they themselves – as individuals – were incapable of influencing or avoiding. Likewise for “acts of God” events. If the sun were to be blotted out by the moon, a heretic must be burned. In America, this tradition is less ingrained, having been a country founded in large part by individuals seeking to escape such unreason. I fear, though, this is eroding and the euro-tradition of irresponsibility and blame while relying on Big Brother and The Nanny State is taking hold.

One Comment

  1. […] a previous post, Experts in a Time of Unreason, I made reference to a case involving six scientists and a government official convicted of […]

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