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Experts

  • When a workman knows the use of his tools, he can make a door as well as a window.

  • The question of democracy is often discussed on the assumption that we are obliged to choose between the rule of that modern beneficent despot, the expert, and a muddled, befogged 'people.' If the question were as simple as that, most of our troubles would be over; we should have only to get enough Intelligence Bureaus at Washington, enough scientific management into the factories, enough specialists (on hygiene, transportation, etc.) into the cities, enough formulae from the agricultural colleges into the country, and all life would become fair and beautiful. For the people, it is assumed, will gladly agree to become automata when we show them all the things — nice, solid, objective things — they can have by abandoning their own experience in favor of a superior race of men called experts.

  • ... a little of the ready reliance on the expert comes from the desire to waive responsibillity, comes from the endless evasion of life instead of an honest facing of it. The expert is to many what the priest is, someone who knows absolutely and can tell us what to do. The king, the priest, the expert, have one after the other had our allegiance, but so far as we put any of them in the place of ourselves, we have not a sound society and neither individual nor general progress.

  • ... I wish we could understand the word expert as expressing an attitude of mind which we can all acquire rather than the collecting of information by a special caste. ... Many of us are calling for experts because, acutely conscious of the mess we are in, we want someone to pull us out.

  • ... there is a pernicious tendency to make the opinions of the expert prevail by crowd methods, to rush the people instead of educating them.

  • ... while the executive should give every possible value to the information of the specialist, no executive should abdicate thinking on any subject because of the expert. The expert's information or opinion should not be allowed automatically to become a decision. On the other hand, full recognition should be given to the part the expert plays in decision making.

    • Mary Parker Follett,
    • in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett ()
  • Never accept an expert's opinion if it violates your own because the experts can change their minds.

  • It is a rare expert who clearly realizes how inexpert someone else can be.

  • One trouble: to be a professional anything in the United States is to think of oneself as an expert and one's ideas as semisacred, and to treat others in a certain way — professionally.

    • Marge Piercy,
    • "The Grand Coolie Damn," in Robin Morgan, Sisterhood Is Powerful ()
  • ... an expert is anyone from out of town ...

  • An expert is anyone who can already do what we want to do.