An expert, in general, is a peculiar type of … of what? They are expected to know what they are talking about. So, in a sense, the expert has/gets to define/represent the area of their expertise.
Usually, there is a “field” of interest, in which the expert has been educated and trained. You wouldn’t go to the front-yard mechanic on the corner if your kid needs heart surgery. Expertise in one field generally does not mean they are experts in any other field. Some folk are experts in more than one field, yet still the tendency is for specialization, being as no one should ever be saying they know everything.
Doesn’t hurt if the expert has some humility, although we expect them to act with at least an appearance of certainty.
Sometimes the expert can act is if their version of the matter at issue is the consensus in the field. In the Press, we will see someone described as a “leading” authority. Other experts gain reputation when they have a title in some institution: Vice president of marketing research. Holder of the Donald Duck Chair at Harvard Medical School, in the field of forensic analysis of dead people – i.e the chief pathologist in residence there.
You expect your lawyer and doctor to have all manner of stuff on the walls of their offices, announcing their degrees, licenses, awards, and so forth.
Most folk do not know the difference between what are called the hard sciences and the soft sciences … aka: between physics and psychology, for example. Medicine, given the need for the process of diagnosis, is often more art than science. Sure a person can have a generally recognized condition, but multiple ways in which they have it in a form unique to them.
The News “business” uses experts all the time. If we are paying attention we have discovered the factual certainty that all experts do not agree, much of the time. Still, if the Press anoints one of them as an “expert”, we tend to believe the News did their homework first.
Then there is that type of expertise which is a lot of theoretical elements, as it were. Best guesses is the usual way this is confessed.
Of course, we all know that big business never lies, cheats or steals, so the “experts” they nominate will be quite able to represent the truth (however actually uncertain) as if it is the Truth – with a capital T.
Then there is this very rare bird, the generalist. Not a specialist, but interested in multiple fields, and works at helping these different areas of expertise not be in conflict with any other discipline. So if an expert in epidemiology tells one story, an expert in another field, or a generalist, might easily refute the claim.
Of course the News has to beware of creating boredom in the watcher, because they might not stick until the next commercial. News, as in Television, looks for good pictures, and whatever seems to be exciting. Not likely to deliver us a long talk by a different epidemiologist, who asserts that the one the News used is full of it, and on his blackboard he has gone over all the relevant numbers to prove his case.
What is very ironic - in the News business - is how often they ask a politician for policy answers, for which the politician has no expertise whatsoever, and a personal agenda (often not confessed) to boot.
So the News can get lies, ignorance, arrogance, and sell it to the public as based on the thinking of “experts in the field”. Does the reader of this remember when there was a profession of investigative journalism? These days we are lucky if the News organization fact-checked anything, whether from an expert or a politician pretending to be an expert.
There is a field of expertise called public relations. This is about controlling the News narrative in a way favorable to whatever company, person, or idea the public relations firm is paid to advance, in a fashion where the truth does not matter at all, but only the appearance – the mythical-tale most favorable for the client.
It is going to be known in the future that just about everything we were told in the beginning about the pandemic never was ever true. It is going to be known in the future that the germ theory of disease is scientifically mistaken. Experts believe it, but to do that they have to pretend others do not, and can in fact prove those experts are wrong.
Sometimes we observe this when we understand that while we all can have are own opinion, we are not entitled to our own facts. In medicine, and even in fields of hard science, theories come and go in and out of fashion. Sometimes the people involved forget that facts are independent of popular acclaim, i.e. just because there is a consensus among some of the experts in a field, does not mean they know what we need to know.
Big Pharma has every reason to want to control the narrative that the best way to treat infectious disease is with vaccines, to which they own the patents. Most ordinary folk have accepted this situation as a kind of medical religion, expecting the experts to actually know what they are doing, ignoring the naysayers who suggest otherwise.
History pretty much establishes that the majority is usually wrong, given that consensus in science has no meaning. The consensus – the paradigm – fails, because the iconoclast scientist sought the truth, instead of institutional positions and wealth.
In a kind of macro-historical crisis sense, the pandemic is a gigantic test of whether or not various social institutions actually know what they are doing, or what is worse, don’t care because wealth and position is at play, while the truth is secondary.
At the early years of the 20th Century the scientist Sir Arthur Eddington remarked about the effects of specialization: We are knowing more and more about less and less. This cultivated arrogant ignorance is part of why Western Civilization is heading for the toilet.