Monday, September 27, 2010

Should journalists second guess the scientific truth?

This post is a reaction to recent article of Lubos Motl of the same name. It's not surprising, Motl supports his restrictive stance, regarding the rights to expression of private opinion from the side of journalists. But we shouldn't neglect the fact, with respect to climatic science Lubos is just an educated journalist like everyone else and he violates his own rules flagrantly, because he is trying to influent public meaning massively all the time. He is just trying to dispute rights of journalists to the same activity, which he dedicated most of his time - and because he uses Google Adsense on his blog, he's even earning some money for it like professional journalists.

In general, opinion of experts matters from intrinsic perspective only. But just because experts are specialized to narrow area of their private interest, they're not overmuch qualified in judging of their opinions in wider context - on the contrary, they tend to occupy their stances rather blindly - the more, the more they feel being an experts in given area. In this context the reading of articles The era of expert failure by Arnold Kling,  Why experts are usually wrong by David H. Freeman and Why the experts missed the crash by Phill Tetlock (in Czech) may be useful not only for Lubos Motl.

Niels Bohr: "An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field".