Beware the 'Experts'

Headstrong 'hedgehogs' get the most airtime, but little right
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2009 6:57 AM CDT
Jim Cramer, host of the "Mad Money" show on CNBC, makes an appearance on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" Thursday, March 12, 2009 in New York.   (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
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(Newser) – Why did financial experts so spectacularly fail to warn us about the economic crisis? Mostly because “so-called experts turn out to be, in many situations, a stunningly poor source of expertise,” writes Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. Experts of all stripes are enormously influential, but their prognostications are just a hair better than random guesses, found one study that tracked 82,000 predictions by 284 of them.

It barely mattered if the experts had doctorates, or what field they came from, or how much experience they had. All that mattered was fame: the more famous a pundit, the less reliable. That’s because pundits earn air-time—and hence fame—by providing strong opinions and ideologies. Far more accurate were those who took nuanced, complex views. “What matters,” concludes Kristof, “isn’t so much knowledge or experience as good judgment.”