Thursday 5 January 2023

Beware of experts

'Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get in the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge, and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man who knows where it hurts is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialised character.

'To manage men, to explain difficult things to simple people, to reconcile opposite interests, to weigh the evidence of disputing experts, to deal with the clamorous emergency of the hour; are not these things in themselves worth the consideration and labour of a lifetime? If the Ruler is to be an expert in anything he should be an expert in everything; and that is plainly impossible. Wherefore I say from the dominion of all specialists (particularly military specialists) good Lord deliver us.'

Winston Churchill in a letter to H.G. Wells, (1901)

'No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.'

Lord Salisbury, in a letter to Lord Lytton (15 June 1877)


  1. Agreed - President Eisenhower said much the same thing in his farewell address. "Scientific experts" especially. The danger of an establishment science (funded by the taxpayers and by the corporations) telling people what policy "must" be, was specifically warned against by Eisenhower.

  2. I must get a Romanian taxi driver to operate next time my bike duct or liver needs some attention.