The Trouble with Experts

2011, Society  -   44 Comments
Ratings: 8.32/10 from 19 users.

The Trouble with ExpertsAs filmmaker Josh Freed’s entertaining new documentary The Trouble with Experts, reminds us, we are all addicted to experts.

They tell us what to eat, how to vote, raise our kids, fix our homes, buy our wines, interpret political events and, until recently, choose the right stocks.

They're all over the media telling us what to think, because there's just too much information for us to sort out ourselves. So we often cede our own opinions to them because, well... they're experts, so they know better than us. Or do they?

In the recent stock meltdown, we discovered that some of our most important experts – our financial gurus - didn't know much at all.

So what about all the other experts out there? Does having expertise actually mean you make better decisions than regular people? Or are they just part of a new cult of expertise, an ever-growing expert industry that's become our latest new religion?

More great documentaries

44 Comments / User Reviews

Leave a Reply to Hershal P Cancel reply

  1. Bobsyouruncle

    Al Gore and David Suzuki are good examples.

  2. K Sean Proudler

    Like I have said elsewhere many years ago, experts are imprisoned within a zone of expertise. Thus if you are in need of help that deals with entirety, rather than confinement, then experts will be of no help to you at all.

    Experts also use the entire power of their minds to build hierarchical structured knowledge banks. Outside of that knowledge bank, their knowledge can be bone dry since the mind has extended upward in one specific area via the construction of a specific knowledge tree.

    However, if you think laterally (horizontally), and stay at ground level, you can extend far enough to see the basics of the entirety of all reality. You can understand everything about reality. A physicist on the other hand, can not. He is confined to merely his specific zone of expertise.

    The person who figures out the entirety of all reality, would be regarded as being nothing but an idiot, or perhaps a jack of all trades at best, but in an insulting manner. He is considered stupid because he is not an expert, he has no PhD's to be admired. No school currently teaches lateral thinking and lateral learning. There are no PhD's here.

    Thus, those whom are imprisoned within a specific area, and thus are limited, are considered to be intelligent.

    However, those who could understand the entirety of reality, and thus are not limited, are those who would be perceived as possibly being somewhat mentally challenged, or perhaps would be perceived as being insane, since what they can see can not at all be seen by any experts, since these experts are imprisoned within their specific zones of confinement.

  3. Actof Courage

    Experts.......we don't need no stinkin experts....LMAO

  4. Ryan Han

    The only real experts are the scientists and the technicians who's works and opinions can be tested scientifically. Because science does not lie, where as in other fields, they are simply opinions mixed in with their own agendas.


  5. emenot

    There are so many EXPERTS in singapore that its is just plain silly to belief any of them!

  6. Sébastien Talbot-Vachon

    Ironic the fact that this video exposes false expert and fraud... next to a banner ad about psychic reading.

  7. john ng

    this doco is great, I'm finishing up my PhD, and it's quite true, there's so much BS out there. The more I study sciences the more complex i know the world and the human body is. The best way to make predictions is by empirical methods, i.e. Attempt to make a small version of the thing you want to test and then continue on it, if it works stick to it, if it doesn't work then scrap it.
    If a vitamin makes you feel fantastic everytime you take it, then keep taking it. Don't let some expert tell you that it doesn't work. Same with wine, same with paintings and same with investing. Great Doco, heaps cut through the BS in the media.

    1. ranii02

      i agree for the most part that you should do what you feel is right etc etc. but empirical methods (quantitative studies) aren't that easy or effective with social sciences and human behavior. and using vitamins as an example might be on shaky ground considering that if you grow a resistance to medicine and pills then you take more in order to get the same feeling and benefit..when you shouldn't take more. so experts in some sense have a really good use.

      as for the tv experts and economists, business experts and theorists and many more..they're a joke!

    2. Awesome Bryner

      It all boils down to money. Not knowledge. They will say anything technical or professional that sounds like they are smart to get someone to pay money. Today is the world of scammers.

  8. Rebecca Hu

    The problem with expertise is not "expertise" (ie, specialized knowledge in a particular field) -- it's the reality-tv-celebrity-wannabes that use "expertise" as a ticket for fame / money / any other ulterior motives. Just look at the students interviewed in that segment on "expert schools" : not one of them mentioned why their field of interest is important to them or to society, or what they do have significant meaning -- all of them emphasize wanting to be "known," with a vacant smile on their faces. It is this distraction for the title of expert without attention to what this subject of expertise is and how to attain expertise that leads societies' vain citizens to become quacks, and to allow money-hungry powers of "authority" to cash in on their distractions.

    1. Awesome Bryner

      Again money. Its all about money in their pockets. Nothing else. Most businesses now a days say they put customers first, but they argue to tell you that their policy is set at what they have it and will never change. So really customers are not #1 to their business, just manipulate to trick the customers to pay money. That is with support and assistance, and they will try to take everything as money worth from you.

      Another example of experts is 'Vampires'. Not as the bloodsucking ones, but sucking the finances and life with stress out of you kind of 'Vampires'. Experts suck you dry of money.

  9. Jo McKay

    Man that was great. Thank you Vlatko and Josh Freed... many moons ago (mid 90's) came accross some decent research that showed the 'higher' a persons education level (this was in the humanities) the 'less' skilled you become as a helper. Turns out, a little education, and lots of practical or life experience make the most effective helpers. One does not, after all need a Phd to be kind! :) good stuff

  10. LisaCanta

    but i disagree with what they were saying about kevin tredou...his book 'natural cures they dont want you to know about' is really great and completly true

  11. LisaCanta

    the aanc website says you can get membership just by paying and to get the official certified nuitritionist consultant initials after you name and all that, all you have to do is have a high school education, do an exam at home (where you can get all the answers easily) and you have 3 years to complete it! this of course costs about 500 dollars. and you have to be a member to do it which costs 60 dollars a year. its just a scam!!

  12. pkunzip

    I liked it! Not too long and a lot of interesting issues, without being too quirky. It made me watch clips of Bill O'Reilly by some strange reason, 'cause he would be my favorite example of an "Expert" (meaning: crock of ****, neatly arranged in a suit)

    1. Awesome Bryner

      Expert = God of money sucking Vampires. Movie that comes to mind 'House Of Games'. Scammers and more scammers.

      Oh and if you are rich, the more they try to take.

  13. francuccio

    Face it: Americans hate smart people. Hence, President George W. Katrina-Nine-Eleven Bush.

    1. Awesome Bryner

      That is because even if they are smart, they do the stupidest things ever imaginable.

  14. Mindaugas B

    "Because we want to be cheated, there are so many cheaters". A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

  15. Anya D Night

    Based on what the experts said, I'm buying cheap wine! Or better yet, I'll buy an expensive wine and fill it with the cheap stuff.

  16. AnalogousGumdropDecoder

    Don't trust what that pompous elitist Stephen Hawking has to say on physics, just use your own intuition.

  17. CapnCanard

    I know most will disagree with me but the so called experts dissing the traditional shamanistic expert is a complete fool. The intuitive nature of information acquistion is not any worse than the "experts" and in fact is often much better! That said, throwing some pasta at the wall to see if it sticks works too...

  18. KsDevil

    As an expert in these matters I definatly recommend you watch this documentary. This knowledge will bring cetainty and success to your life. With my help, I have assisted large numbers of people gain success by my recommendations with a 98% success rate.

  19. PeSO821

    She has a very good point, but goes too far. Which is a shame; it could be a good documentary.

    If experts are almost always wrong, who should we trust? Are we better of believing in non-expert opinion? Should we consult random people from street to discuss complex issues?
    There is no shortcut to knowledge and experience, it takes time and hard work. Yes I agree: beware of imposters!
    But knowing the best people can get it wrong, does not automatically give us authority over them.

    1. PaulGloor

      I think the idea of the doc was to emphasize the separation of the 'industry' of experts vs the real experts. Where a real expert has put in genuine thought and research, has probably been in the respective field of expertise for a lifetime accumulating knowledge and will readily accept new information and revise a prediction or opinion and the TV expert is someone who has done some reading, prepared a speech, wears some bling and sells you on an idea.

    2. unhinderedliving

      The answer to the question "who should we trust" is "Ourselves and our own experience." We have been convinced that we have to have an "expert" to guide us in everything. That we can't be healed without a doctor, learn without school or a teacher, or be spiritually whole without a priest, minister, or organized religion to guide us. This is untrue! Start trusting your own inner wisdom. Check out the Center for Unhindered Living.

    3. Awesome Bryner

      DIY with knowledge is the best. Asking experts is selling your soul to them. Actually money, but close enough. Learn to do it yourself and you won't need experts aka scammers to take your money.

  20. JudgeWilliamAdams

    "An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less."
    -Butler, Nicholas

  21. alans

    In my opinion, there are no experts, but there are people who are more right than wrong, and vice-verse.

  22. Norm

    "You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother." Albert Einstein

    If you can explain a black hole to grandma then you are indeed, an expert.

    1. shane van Ireland

      an old man once said.. 'some people need to go to college, spend tens of thousands of dollars and devote 5 years of their live just so thay can learn words few people understand in order to give definition to the philosophical meaning of happiness & life. While it only took him 'an ice cold beer on a warm sunny day'

      Simplicity is genius.

      The whole issue of looking at the finger instead of what it points to, somepeople just never get it.

  23. Guest

    I am an expert on experts.

    1. shane van Ireland

      I'm an expert on idiots. while we have more idiots on the plannet.. I believe I may be more valuable.

  24. David Foster

    Well then, who gets to be an expert, if not an expert? We can't be suspicious of Knowledge Itself, can we? Or CAN we? [insert diabolical laughter]

  25. Hershal P

    Good one...

  26. Vladimir Petkovic

    so is this painter in prison now :(?

  27. Juraj Filkorn

    werent these experts on experts?

    1. Earthwinger

      Yeah, take 'em with a pinch of salt! :D

  28. Jeremy

    The issue I have with this documentary is that it is bullshit. For example, just one of many I could give, this documentary states that " none of the experts saw the revolts in the middle-east coming, but had plenty to say once it occurred." quote might be off a little, but that was essentially what was said.



    I do agree with the principle idea behind this Doc, it reminds me of the movie K-pax, when Kevin Spacey says, "How many doctor's are on this planet?" But I don't fully agree that every single expert is an idiot, if this were true, I personally would not have know about the then coming middle-east conflict, but I did, because experts that did know predicted it. I don't live in the middle-east, I don't see what happens there. If it were not for random experts on middle-east socio-politics I would literally know nothing about the state of affairs there.

    Experts are necessary and essential, the trick is to analyze what they say, if it sounds wrong, it probably is, dig deeper, you'll find a real expert : )

  29. Guest

    The best doc this week. But then again anything written on this thread will be coming from an expert's opinion.
    The problem with expertise is that one tries to convince others before being convinced fully him/herself. It is with the support of others that we come to think we are right. Try an idea that no one supports and you'll come to think you are wrong.

    1. Epicurus

      im pretty sure the universe was created 5 mins ago by a unicorn who placed all our memories and history in our minds to appear like we have been here for a long time....nothing will ever change my mind!

    2. Guest

      to a 3 or 4 yrs old you would possibly sound like an expert on fantasy.
      edit; i don't mean normally....just this one

    3. Earthwinger

      "Try an idea that no one supports and you'll come to think you are wrong"

      Hehe, I do that all the time. Sometimes I'm right, and I can bathe in the warm fuzzy glow of righteousness, and other times I just have to shrug it off and say "nothing ventured, nothing gained." ;)

      For me, that's a big part of what life's all about. Listen to other people, but always keep one eye on other options. Then when it's crunch time, let yourself be your guide. :)

      And yeah, a great doc. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  30. dave

    Experts at giving opinions!