Last night’s BBC Newsnight programme featured a 15-minute film by Ian Katz about ‘experts’:
Of course, it starts out with the Michael Gove quote, which for once is presented in full, “I think the people in this country have had enough of experts… getting it consistently wrong”.
Paul Nurse – looking more and more like a Harry Enfield character – is interviewed, and there are clips of Donald Trump saying that “the experts are terrible”. Focusing on economics, Matt Ridley says that we are right to question experts, particularly after what happened (or didn’t happen) in the aftermath of the EU vote, ending with “I think we should pay a lot of attention to economists, except when they’re talking about the future”.
Katz interviews Gove, trying to get him to admit that he regretted his remarks, without success. He also goes to Ollie’s Cafe in Bognor, to ask a few of the locals why experts had lost their trust. “There’s too much scaremongering from so-called experts”, said the cafe owner Graham Patrick. “Unfortunately they get stuck in their little bubble of what they’re doing”. Hear hear!
Katz also talks to MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis, who, like Ridley, “thinks the trouble starts when experts start predicting the future”. On the EU debate, he says “Some experts made the mistake of campaigning … which immediately says that you’re biased one way or the other, and the public will perceive it and not trust you.” There’s a useful lesson there for some climate scientists.
The piece ends with one expert who was so upset about the Brexit vote that she attended a Cambridge faculty meeting “wearing only the words Brexit leaves us naked scrawled across her torso”, allowing Katz to make a joke about emperors.
See also this article by Katz on the BBC website.