C – Expert Opinion

I have been particularly exercised or concerned by the term “expert”, and in particular what importance one should put on “expert” findings or opinions. The dictionary definition of expert is generally “having special knowledge or skill in a subject.” I think that in the minds of many this should include those whose vocation is or was in the field in question (such as a scholar or working scientist), has published peer-reviewed papers in authoritative publications, and who is therefore recognized by the community in question. These latter considerations would exclude me as a member of this category.

The question then arises as to the role of the average citizen in evaluating and commenting on events important to us all. Personal computers and the Internet now provide us all: access to extensive information, previously available easily only to “experts”; the means to analyze such information; and to “publish” conclusions, or opinions.[1] One is left with a major problem of how to assess the ability of this large body of people to properly fulfill this role.

One conclusion that I have arrived at is to suspect the opinion of any “expert”, or subset of “experts”, and the ability of this community to totally integrate the available information in a manner that is accessible and useful to the many, that is you and me. One consideration is that this community does have various focuses and biases that limit their comprehensiveness. This is not so much a criticism but an observation of what is perhaps inevitable, and possibly necessary, to the field in question.

I recently read one author’s description of how he was able to pull together a complete picture of his subject, which I find useful. He said he used “triangulation” from a number of authoritative sources from which he was able to assemble a very plausible, complete picture of events. This is what I have been practising over the last six years on this subject, without having realized it.

In any event, I have found much information on all sides of the matter of wind power. It is necessary to evaluate the bias, assumptions, reasoning used and sources cited (and the same for the sources) of each “expert” opinion. It is necessary to look at many “expert” opinions to arrive at a personally satisfactory picture, or conclusion. Unfortunately, this takes considerable time and effort, which is not available to many.

In this matter readers must decide for themselves about the value of the information on this site.

[1] This is a projection of the “Fourth Estate”, the traditional media who report on the activities of those who make decisions that affect us all, and the conduct of all of us, and the “Fifth Estate”, which is made up of professional media personnel who are keeping an eye on the ability of the “Fourth Estate” to fulfill their responsibility. The “Sixth Estate” is all the rest of us who take on the task of learning about and/or just commenting on the same decision makers, all our activities and the performance of the Fourth and Fifth Estates in fulfilling their responsibilities.

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