Monday, April 3, 2017

False Meme Becomes Book

Last week, Reason magazine informed me that the Death of Expertise had become a book.

This is the left's attempt to describe the death of the narrative in terms acceptable to itself. It continues to be just as ridiculous as it was when it was just a post at the Federalist.

The book business is one of the business desperately wanting to maintain the narrative. The Oxford University Press may have it easier than a more mainstream publisher, but it no doubt still feels the edges of its domain being eaten away. In addition to simple competition, there is a movement for research and scholarly work to be open source- the idea being that, since these academics are being funded by public money, the public ought to be able to get a hold of the information.

Let me go abstract a bit on the narrative thing, since I already pointed out this is the death of the narrative. People who have run into this argument, whether left or right, will already have some sort of response to it. But it is worth remembering what we used to have- we used to watch, read or listen, and generally believe the media, until they got to a point where we had experience and/or expertise. What would we do then? At best, it a complex subject would be over-simplified to fit into time constraints, or worse, sometimes culminating in a feeling that someone was trying to mislead.

But now it doesn't work very well anymore. Easy case in point: Russia hacking. One of the reasons the story is so lame is that the people who are pushing it don't know hacking. They tend not to know Russia either, nor admit to the extreme foreign policy mistakes the U.S. has been up to for the past few decades, but Marco Rubio is actually going in front of media and reporting port-scans like they are hacks! Port-scans are always happening; they may be a prelude to a hack, but they aren't hacks and they've been happening since before Al Gore invented the internet.

So, just in this one story experts in specific things- Russia, foreign policy, hacking, Trump's personal aversions, email, twitter, etc- smash the 'experts' who are trying to hold the whole narrative together. They are too exposed. Additionally, I don't think the narratives are as well done as they once were- people seem, generally speaking, less well read. Progressives are especially likely to renounce the past, and judge their forebears, often thereby restricting themselves to narratives that simply can't stand the test of time- not to mention the test of Google.

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