Moving from Expert to Public Expert

Your Secret Weapon: You Know What You’re Talking About

Here’s one of the most familiar narratives in science:

We knew that! We’ve been saying that for years! Why didn’t you know that?

It’s the story of a subculture — a scientific field — so insular that it thinks it’s sufficiently communicated a piece of knowledge to the rest of the world, only to discover (after years, maybe even decades) that the rest of the world didn’t get the message at all.…

Public Expertise Fuels Research Innovation

Get an Old Fashioned or three into a researcher and they’ll eventually start complaining how their discipline is stuck in a rut, plowing already well-turned fields, scraping the last bit of ore off the side of the mine shaft.

It’s not just the alcohol talking: There’s now a small subfield (not stuck in a rut) tracking and discussing the decline in research productivity and the flow of ideas post WWII.…

Occupy their Expert Heuristics

How do we know which public expert to trust? It’s the one that looks and sounds like the one we would trust, of course. The one that occupies our public expert heuristics.

Flo Débarre, an evolutionary ecologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research, tweeted the following last month in the wake of a letter in Science signed by 18 scientists calling for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19:

Débarre’s is a common scientist position — what a shame scientists let such non-scientific factors such as name recognition and hero worship obscure scientific merit.…