One of our theories is that the people who develop expertise fastest in a certain situation are the people with a “stake” in it.
As an extreme example – if you are in a physical fight with someone, you can potentially be in a lot of pain, so you learn very fast.
As a more day to day example, someone actually running a business, or bringing up a child, will generally have a better idea about how it works than (say) a consultant or their mother in law. That isn’t to say a consultant or a mother in law will have nothing to offer, but they can’t (except in rare circumstances) have such a detailed understanding of the task in hand.
By ‘understanding how something works’ we mean understanding its cause and effect. Do I usually get the result I want by doing this? Or does it make it worse?
Now with the UK’s recent Brexit referendum, it is interesting to note that three of the main cheerleaders for Brexit are former newspaper writers – Dan Hannan, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson. They may had stakeholder roles after doing that (as a a senior UK politician for Michael Gove, and as mayor of London for Boris Johnson), but their formative thinking and professional development was as writers.
If someone is just being paid to write, then they are not directly a stakeholder in anything, except as a public citizen, and in keeping their job – which requires understanding how to keep their editors and proprietors happy, which is presumably about maintaining readers’ attention or keeping the same political line their bosses approve of.
So this leads to the question: when promoting Brexit, were these former writers thinking, perhaps subconsiously, that it would be a good way to get an audience, and align themselves with newspaper bosses, such as the anti-EU Rupert Murdoch?
Or were they thinking more about the cause and effect on the UK – if they would achieve their desired effect (presumably improving the quality of life of UK citizens) through this cause (leaving the EU)? Did they even understand how this cause and effect works?
Perhaps the lesson in future would be, for such issues, to follow leaders who do actually have an idea about what kind of forces are more likely to improve quality of life for UK citizens, because they have thought deeply about this and made decisions which affected quality of life for UK citizens and saw the outcome? There aren’t many such people, nearly all former senior politicians. And we saw what view nearly all the UK’s former senior politicians, with the exception of Nigel Lawson, took.
Note also Michael Gove’s statement that “people in this country have had enough of experts.” Is this – perhaps subconsiously – an acknowledgement that if the public listened to its experts they would reach a different conclusion?