In complicated times, what distinguishes experts from valuable experts?
Most often: their ability to transcend their discipline and pull from other disciplines. To give more than uni-disciplinary advice.
Tyler Cowen makes the point beautifully. In 1990, he argues, economists advising an Eastern bloc country on how to privatize couldn’t simply present plans based on economics alone and expect to succeed.…Read More
Friday’s essay (“The Wrong Kind of Serenity”) prompted a lot of feedback — some of it defensive. Eliciting the defenses was one of my goals in writing it. But the defensive feedback revealed one element of resistance I didn’t specifically factor into “The Wrong Kind of Serenity”: how researchers might in fact be too busy to intervene in debates they should intervene in … if they think about intervention as writing yet another takeout for a peer-reviewed journal.…Read More
It’s that middle part of the prayer that many scientists and researchers gloss over.
People get stuff wrong. That’s not the worst thing.
The worst thing: when experts who know that people are getting things wrong keep their knowledge to themselves.…Read More
Take a look at these eye-popping stats, from journalist and technologist Frederic Filloux’s recent essay, “COVID-19’s General Blindness is Also a Journalistic Failure”:
- A search query for the phrases “global pandemic” or “global pandemic preparedness” from 2009-2019 turned up 1,400 results in JAMA, 30 papers in ArXiv and 17,000 results in Google Scholar.
OK: which of you is wearing a mask now or about to start? And why?
The US government seems on the verge of reversing its position on whether all of its citizens should now wear some sort of covering over those noses and mouths while in public.…Read More
I’ll double down on something I wrote last week: Don’t predict, describe.
Especially: Describe trends and tell us where/what they will lead to.
Right now, expert predictions are, at best, thought exercises that verge on entertainment. At worst, they’re horoscopes: almost always wrong, almost always without accountability, almost always hiding one or more key and very debatable assumptions.…Read More
Information about COVID-19 right now is piecemeal, sometimes contradictory and always at least somewhat uncertain. The scruffiness resembles how research might look as it assembles its models of reality, otherwise known as knowledge.
But research is a structured conversation through the literature, a call and response that confirms advances and signals dead ends in its reality models.…Read More
Here’s one way to break the rules in research:
- Be a woman in a male-dominated field.
- Have a big, easy-to-explain framework that purports to explain and predict what legions of your fellow researchers (and pundits) have struggled to explain and predict for decades.
It isn’t just citations, and it isn’t just where you’ve been published, and it isn’t just about being fresh and accurate and right. Those might feed into it. But first: It’s who you can talk with and why they listen to you.…Read More
Goop is not the problem. Goop is the symptom. Until we understand the problem and how to speak to it constructively, we are just making things worse.
Unfortunately, we in the research world do not seem to be learning this lesson.…Read More