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Book review: The Death of Expertise

The Conversation

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A new book expresses concern that the ‘average American’ has base knowledge so low that it is now plummeting to ‘aggressively wrong’.
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Rod Lamberts, Australian National University

I have to start this review with a confession: I wanted to like this book from the moment I read the title. And I did. Tom Nichols’ The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters is a motivating – if at times slightly depressing – read.

In the author’s words, his goal is to examine:

… the relationship between experts and citizens in a democracy, why that relationship is collapsing, and what all of us, citizens and experts, might do about it.

This resonates strongly with what I see playing out around the world almost every day – from the appalling state of energy politics in Australia, to the frankly bizarre condition of public debate on just about anything in the US and the UK.

Nichols’ focus is on the US, but the parallels with similar nations are myriad. He expresses a deep concern that “the average American” has base knowledge so low it has crashed through the floor of “uninformed”, passed “misinformed” on the way down, and is now plummeting to “aggressively wrong”. And this is playing out against a backdrop in which people don’t just believe “dumb things”, but actively resist any new information that might threaten these beliefs.

He doesn’t claim this situation is new, per se – just that it seems to be accelerating, and proliferating, at eye-watering speed.

Intimately entwined with this, Nichols mourns the decay of our ability to have constructive, positive public debate. He reminds us that we are increasingly in a world where disagreement is seen as a personal insult. A world where argument means conflict rather than debate, and ad hominem is the rule rather than the exception.

Again, this is not necessarily a new issue – but it is certainly a growing one.

Oxford University Press

The book covers a broad and interconnected range of topics related to its key subject matter. It considers the contrast between experts and citizens, and highlights how the antagonism between these roles has been both caused and exacerbated by the exhausting and often insult-laden nature of what passes for public conversations.

Nichols also reflects on changes in the mediating influence of journalism on the relationship between experts and “citizens”. He reminds us of the ubiquity of Google and its role in reinforcing the conflation of information, knowledge and experience.

His chapter on the contribution of higher education to the ailing relationship between experts and citizens particularly appeals to me as an academic. Two of his points here exemplify academia’s complicity in diminishing this relationship.

Nichols outlines his concern about the movement to treat students as clients, and the consequent over-reliance on the efficacy and relevance of student assessment of their professors. While not against “limited assessment”, he believes:

Evaluating teachers creates a habit of mind in which the layperson becomes accustomed to judging the expert, despite being in an obvious position of having inferior knowledge of the subject material.

Nichols also asserts this student-as-customer approach to universities is accompanied by an implicit, and also explicit, nurturing of the idea that:

Emotion is an unassailable defence against expertise, a moat of anger and resentment in which reason and knowledge quickly drown. And when students learn that emotion trumps everything else, it is a lesson they will take with them for the rest of their lives.

The pervasive attacks on experts as “elitists” in US public discourse receive little sympathy in this book (nor should these). Nichols sees these assaults as entrenched not so much in ignorance, more as being rooted in:

… unfounded arrogance, the outrage of an increasingly narcissistic culture that cannot endure even the slightest hint of inequality of any kind.

Linked to this, he sees a confusion in the minds of many between basic notions of democracy in general, and the relationship between expertise and democracy in particular.

Democracy is, Nichols reminds us, “a condition of political equality”: one person, one vote, all of us equal in the eyes of the law. But in the US at least, he feels people:

… now think of democracy as a state of actual equality, in which every opinion is a good as any other on almost any subject under the sun. Feelings are more important than facts: if people think vaccines are harmful … then it is “undemocratic” and “elitist” to contradict them.

The danger, as he puts it, is that a temptation exists in democratic societies to become caught up in “resentful insistence on equality”, which can turn into “oppressive ignorance” if left unchecked. I find it hard to argue with him.

Nichols acknowledges that his arguments expose him to the very real danger of looking like yet another pontificating academic, bemoaning the dumbing down of society. It’s a practice common among many in academia, and one that is often code for our real complaint: that people won’t just respect our authority.

There are certainly places where a superficial reader would be tempted to accuse him of this. But to them I suggest taking more time to consider more closely the contexts in which he presents his arguments.

This book does not simply point the finger at “society” or “citizens”: there is plenty of critique of, and advice for, experts. Among many suggestions, Nichols offers four explicit recommendations.

  • The first is that experts should strive to be more humble.
  • Second, be ecumenical – and by this Nichols means experts should vary their information sources, especially where politics is concerned, and not fall into the same echo chamber that many others inhabit.
  • Three, be less cynical. Here he counsels against assuming people are intentionally lying, misleading or wilfully trying to cause harm with assertions and claims that clearly go against solid evidence.
  • Finally, he cautions us all to be more discriminating – to check sources scrupulously for veracity and for political motivations.

In essence, this last point admonishes experts to mindfully counteract the potent lure of confirmation bias that plagues us all.

It would be very easy for critics to cherry-pick elements of this book and present them out of context, to see Nichols as motivated by a desire to feather his own nest and reinforce his professional standing: in short, to accuse him of being an elitist. Sadly, this would be a prime example of exactly what he is decrying.

To these people, I say: read the whole book first. If it makes you uncomfortable, or even angry, consider why.

Have a conversation about it and formulate a coherent argument to refute the positions with which you disagree. Try to resist the urge to dismiss it out of hand or attack the author himself.

I fear, though, that as is common with a treatise like this, the people who might most benefit are the least likely to read it. And if they do, they will take umbrage at the minutiae, and then dismiss or attack it.

The ConversationUnfortunately we haven’t worked how to change that. But to those so inclined, reading this book should have you nodding along, comforted at least that you are not alone in your concern that the role of expertise is in peril.

Rod Lamberts, Deputy Director, Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science, Australian National University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. (Reblogged by permission). Read the original article.

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And then there were two: welcome back ABC Fact Check

The Conversation

Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation

Here at The Conversation, we are committed to publishing evidence-based journalism that aims to inform rather than persuade. In a world flooded with opinions based on alternative versions of reality, we think it’s vital that someone does the heavy lifting of sorting truth from fiction.

It’s one reason why we have been commissioning FactCheck articles written by academics since 2013. And it is why we are so pleased to see the return of the ABC Fact Check unit, which was closed in May 2016 and relaunched today as RMIT ABC Fact Check. In a time of slippery weasel words and “alternative facts”, Australia needs fact checking more than ever and it’s not something we think should be left to just one organisation.

The ABC’s return to fact checking, in collaboration with RMIT, will hopefully get the nation talking about facts, evidence and how we can all become more critical media consumers. It also reminds us of the importance of trust in journalism, and the need for media outlets to be transparent about how we work.

The Conversation’s unique FactCheck process, has been praised as a “unique and fascinating model” by the Poynter Institute in the US. It involves commissioning academic experts from across Australia to pen short articles testing statements by politicians and other public figures against the evidence. We always offer right of reply to the person whose factual claims we are checking.

We then ask a second academic expert to blind review the FactCheck draft. That means they read it without knowing the original author’s identity to check that it really is correct and impartial. The blind review is a crucial step and has helped weed out inaccuracies many times in the past. Our FactCheck Editors challenge both author and blind reviewer to support their own arguments with sourcing and high quality evidence.

Above all, we want our FactChecks to be accurate and fair, and help hold our community and political leaders to account. Our FactChecks have been mentioned in parliament, republished widely and cited by advisers helping to craft policy.

In 2017, we are continuing our collaboration with ABC TV’s Q&A program, in which we ask for viewers to send us panellist statements they’d like to see fact-checked using the hashtags #factcheck #qanda. We’re hoping that the new RMIT ABC Fact Check team will be joining us in this work soon. In the meantime we are hoping to publish more FactChecks than ever, following the expansion of our FactCheck editorial team late last year.

It’s our hope that a healthy fact-check culture in Australia will have us all listening to our public figures with a more critical ear, and asking ourselves: “Hang on, is that really true?”

So far The Conversation has published nearly 200 FactCheck articles and you can read them here. You can also request a new FactCheck at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

Thanks again for reading The Conversation and for caring about the facts.

The ConversationSunanda Creagh, Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. (Reblogged by permission). Read the original article.

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When truth is the first casualty of politics and journalism

The Conversation

Denis Muller, University of Melbourne

Donald Trump’s conduct throughout his campaign for president of the United States has brought into renewed focus a question made famous by Pontius Pilate: what is truth?

Trump has exploited the 24/7 symbiotic news cyclone in which social media and the professional journalism of traditional media are both caught up.

He first creates social media excitement with an outrageous lie, then watches as traditional media, scrambling for “hits” and “eyeballs”, amplify those lies without first troubling with time-consuming verification.

This is an ethical crisis for the media, but it also a crisis for democracy.

In September this year, The Economist ran a cover story headed:

The art of the lie: Post-truth politics in the age of social media.

It took Trump’s campaign as the paradigm case. It said of Trump that he:

… inhabits a fantastical realm where Barack Obama’s birth certificate was faked, the president founded Islamic State, the Clintons are killers and the father of a rival was with Lee Harvey Oswald before he shot John F. Kennedy.

In this post-truth age, The Economist argued, truth was of secondary importance. The lies of people like Trump were not designed to create a false view of the world but to reinforce prejudices.

In the spring 2016 issue of Meanjin, The Guardian Australia’s political editor, Katharine Murphy, posed this question: what role for journalism if facts no longer count?

Describing the current journalistic operating environment, Murphy wrote:

We have to understand that we now practise professionally in a post-truth environment, where our audiences can increasingly choose to exist comfortably inside bubbles, selecting only the information and commentary that reinforces their views, rejecting other material.

To paraphrase The Economist again, voters are cast adrift on an ocean of lies, with nothing to cling to.

The common factor underlying both critiques is that voters are so disconnected from, and disillusioned with, the political process, and have become so inured to the dishonesty of politicians and the media content of politics, that they take refuge in the reinforcement of their own prejudices.

Thus they are easy prey for the outpourings of post-truth politics.

For democratic capitalist polities, where voters depend on a bedrock of reliable information on which to base decisions about political, economic and social life, this state of affairs is ultimately unsustainable.

How did we get here?

In 2011, Lindsay Tanner, finance minister in the Rudd Labor government, published a book called Sideshow. In it, he excoriated politicians and the media alike for dumbing down democracy by focusing on personalities, ephemera and trivia.

Broadly speaking, his thesis was that as the traditional media laboured under the acute financial pressures induced by the digital revolution, they increasingly reduced everything – including politics – to entertainment.

Politicians had then responded by playing to the new rules, so that the contest of ideas had been supplanted by a contest for laughs.

Today his argument looks prescient. A dumbed-down democracy devalues the currency of political debate. A devalued currency engenders distrust. Distrust leads to disillusionment, cynicism and disengagement.

It is made worse by a climate of economic insecurity and a sense of inequity exemplified in Australia by the popular rejection of the 2014 federal budget. When people feel threatened or pushed aside or left behind, they look for scapegoats and are eager to believe anything that supplies them with one.

Post-truth politics, with its comforting reinforcement of prejudice and its fleetingly entertaining outrages, is ready-made for the task.

What is to be done?

Murphy’s piece provided a useful starting point. She says that if journalists think technological change was the biggest threat to their profession, they were deluding themselves. She wrote:

We have to look in the mirror. Our intemperate excesses have discounted our own moral value. Our own behaviour has helped fuel a lack of trust.

So the profession of journalism has a responsibility not to just swim along in the flood of untruths and “truthiness” – something close to the truth but in fact a lie – because it makes for extra “hits” or a fleeting laugh.

It has a responsibility to verify facts before publication – not afterwards – and call out falsehoods for what they are.

That way, the professional media can place a filter on the flood and uphold an ideal expressed by John Stuart Mill: to exchange error for truth and to create a livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error.

The ConversationDenis Muller, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. (Reblogged by permission). Read the original article.

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Real journalists report the news – they don’t make it

The Conversation

Brian McNair, Queensland University of Technology

At QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre we are about to complete ARC-funded research on the state of the Australian political news media.

A key finding of the work has been the nearly complete withdrawal of commercial free-to-air television from the current affairs space, which is now a preserve of the ABC, SBS and for Foxtel subscribers, Sky News.

And what better illustration of this trend could one cite than the bizarre spectacle of Channel 9’s attempt at “journalism” in Lebanon.

Now that they’re out of jail, we can safely assert that no-one in this sorry episode emerges with credit. On the contrary, who can blame the Lebanese authorities for banging them all up?

One hopes some lessons have been learnt all round. For those of us who try to educate the journalists of the future, it’s a shocking breach of the most elementary professional ethics.

What kind of parent subjects their children to such risk? To be snatched off the streets of Beirut, a city full of guns and violence, will surely haunt those poor kids for ever.

Bill Clinton famously said that nobody knows what goes on inside someone else’s marriage, and that for sure holds true in this case. And, frankly, we don’t want to know. And neither do we want primetime media to be encouraging, paying for or stoking up such antics.

If you’re going to send a film crew to Beirut at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe they might cover the actual politics of the place? It’s the Middle East, after all.

What kind of news manager sends their journalists on such an assignment as this, putting their lives and liberty at risk for a National Enquirer-style scoop about a dysfunctional family in meltdown?

It’s an insult to the real foreign correspondents who put their lives at risk for stories that matter.

I hope the health and safety folk are all over it in the months to come, although Australian commercial TV has a regrettable history of such incidents, and it seems to have become an accepted part of our journalistic culture that this stuff passes as “current affairs”.

The story serves as a harsh reminder of the sorry state of news and current affairs in Australia’s commercial TV, and the need for a strong public service media. If you leave your TV journalism to the private sector, don’t be surprised when this is what you get.

The ConversationBrian McNair, Professor of Journalism, Media and Communication, Queensland University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. (Reblogged by permission). Read the original article.

 

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The Rejection of Expertise

by Tim Harding

(An edited version of this essay was published in The Skeptic magazine,
September 2015, Vol 36 No 3 p.36,  titled ‘Who needs to Know?’ It has since been republished in the Australian Doctor magazine 30 October 2015. 
The essay is based on a talk presented to the Victorian Skeptics in May 2015 ).

Anti-vaccination campaigner, Meryl Dorey is on record as saying that we should ‘do our own research’ instead of accepting what the doctors and other qualified experts tell us.  Seasoned skeptics will be aware that ‘Do your own research!’ is a common retort by cranks and conspiracy theorists to those who dare to doubt their claims.  It is a convenient escape hatch they use when trying to win a debate without the bothersome burden of providing their own evidence.

Of course, what they mean by this exhortation is not to do any actual scientific or medical research.  It takes a bit of tertiary education in the relevant field to be able to do that.  For them, ‘research’ means nothing more than googling for less than an hour on the Internet. They naively equate such googling with the years of study and experience it takes to become a qualified expert.  Their message is that anybody with internet access can become an instant but unqualified expert on anything.  Or worse still, that expertise doesn’t even count – all opinions are equal.

The reality is that googling is a notoriously unreliable source of information – there are sound reasons why Wikipedia is not allowed to be cited as a source in university assignments.  The problem is that without expertise in the field in question, few googlers are capable of knowing which sources are reliable and which aren’t.  Anything found on the internet becomes ‘knowledge’.  Mere opinions become ‘facts’.

Another problem is that googlers are often unaware of the wider knowledge context of the specific pieces of information they have found on the internet. In contrast, experts are as much aware of what they don’t know as what they do know.  As Professor Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Bristol puts it:

‘Here is the catch: to know how much more there is to know requires knowledge to begin with.  If you start without knowledge, you also do not know what you are missing out on.’

This paradox gives rise to a famous result in experimental psychology known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Named after Justin Kruger and David Dunning, it refers to a study they published in 1999. This study found that people who lack the knowledge or wisdom to perform well are often unaware of this fact. This is almost more dangerous than complete ignorance, because unlike Donald Rumsfeld, they don’t even know what they don’t know.

Professor Tom Nichols, a US national security expert wrote last year about the ‘death of expertise’; a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of divisions between professionals and amateurs, teachers and students, knowers and wonderers – between those with any expertise in an area and those with none at all.  He sees this situation as not only a rejection of knowledge, but also the processes of knowledge acquisition – a rejection of science and other pursuits of rationality.

Nichols is particularly critical of otherwise intelligent people who are ‘doing their own research’ on the internet and second-guessing their doctors by refusing to vaccinate their children, leading to an entirely avoidable resurgence of dangerous infectious diseases such as whooping cough and measles.

So how did it all come to this sorry state of affairs?  I think that there are basically four contributing factors: the blurring of facts and opinions; a misunderstanding of democracy; a misunderstanding of the Argument from Authority; and the dissipation of media accountability.  I will now discuss each of these factors in turn and then outline some benefits of listening to experts.

Blurring facts and opinions

According to the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, a fact is a state of affairs that is the case.  The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability; that is, whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to experience.  Scientific facts are verified by repeatable careful observation or experiment.  In other words, a fact is that which makes a true statement true.  For instance, the statement ‘It is raining’ describes the fact that it actually is raining.  The rain that falls can be objectively measured in a rain gauge – it is not just a matter of opinion.

On the other hand, an opinion is a judgment, viewpoint, or statement about matters commonly considered to be subjective, such as ‘It is raining too much’.  As Plato said: ‘opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance’.

The last few decades have seen the growth of a postmodernist notion that truth is culturally relative and that all opinions are equal.  What’s worse is a gradual blurring of the important distinction between facts and opinions.  A disturbing feature of the public debate about climate change is the confusion between science and policy.  Because they conflict with some political policies, there is a tendency for the findings of climate scientists to be treated as ‘just another opinion’.  This is a marked change from a few decades ago, when the findings of epidemiologists about the links between smoking and cancer were widely accepted as facts rather than opinions.

Misunderstanding democracy

Reducing the influence of experts is sometimes mistakenly described as ‘the democratisation of ideas’.  Democracy is a system of government – it is not an equality of opinions.  Whilst the right of free speech prevents governments from suppressing opinions, it does not require citizens to treat all opinions equally or even take them into account.  Equal rights do not result in equal knowledge and skills.  As Professor Brian Cox has said:

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Deakin University philosopher Dr. Patrick Stokes has argued the problem with ‘I’m entitled to my opinion’ is that it has become shorthand for ‘I can say or think whatever I like’ without justification; and that disagreement is somehow disrespectful.  Stokes suggests that this attitude feeds into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.

Professor Michael Clark of LaTrobe University gives an example of a public meeting recently, when a participant asked a question that referred to some research, a senior public servant replied: ‘Oh, everyone has a scientific study to justify their position, there is no end to the studies you could cite, I am sure, to support your point of view.’  Clark describes this is a cynical statement, where there are no absolute truths and everyone’s opinion must be treated as equally valid.  In this intellectual framework, the findings of science can be easily dismissed as one of many conflicting views of reality.

Misunderstanding the Argument from Authority

A common response from cranks and conspiracy theorists (and even some skeptics) to citations of expertise is ‘that’s just the argument from authority fallacy’.  Such a response ignores the obvious fact that all scientific papers and other forms of academic writing are chock full of citations of experts.  The notion that the written outputs of the world’s universities and scientific institutions are all based on a logical fallacy is preposterous.  Anybody who thinks that has clearly not thought through the implications of what they are saying.

The Argument from Authority is often misunderstood to be a fallacy in all cases, when this is not necessarily so.  The argument becomes a fallacy only when used deductively, or where there is insufficient inductive strength to support the conclusion of the argument.

The most general form of the deductive fallacy is:

Premise 1: Source A says that statement p is true.

Premise 2: Source A is authoritative.

Conclusion: Therefore, statement p is true.

Even when the source is authoritative, this argument is still deductively invalid because the premises can be true, and the conclusion false (i.e. an authoritative claim can turn out to be false). This fallacy is known as ‘Appeal to Authority’.

The fallacy is compounded when the source is not an authority on the relevant subject matter. This is known as Argument from false or misleading authority.

Although reliable authorities are correct in judgments related to their area of expertise more often than laypersons, they can occasionally come to the wrong judgments through error, bias or dishonesty. Thus, the argument from authority is at best a probabilistic inductive argument rather than a deductive argument for establishing facts with certainty. Nevertheless, the probability sometimes can be very high – enough to qualify as a convincing cogent argument. For example, astrophysicists tell us that black holes exist. The rest of us are in no position to either verify or refute this claim. It is rational to accept the claim as being true, unless and until the claim is shown to be false by future astrophysicists (the first of whom would probably win a Nobel Prize for doing so). An alternative explanation that astrophysicists are engaged in a worldwide conspiracy to deceive us all would be implausible and irrational.

An artist’s depiction of a black hole

As the prominent British environmental activist Mark Lynas has said ‘…if an overwhelming majority of experts say something is true, then any sensible non-expert should assume that they are probably right.’

Thus there is no fallacy entailed in arguing that the advice of an expert in his or her field should be accepted as true, at least for the time being, unless and until it is effectively refuted. A fallacy only arises when it is claimed or implied that the expert is infallible and that therefore his or her advice must be true as a deductive argument, rather than as a matter of probability.  Criticisms of cogent arguments from authority can actually be a rejection of expertise, which is a fallacy of its own.

The Argument from Authority is sometimes mistakenly confused with the citation of references, when done to provide published evidence in support of the point the advocate is trying to make. In these cases, the advocate is not just appealing to the authority of the author, but providing the source of evidence so that readers can check the evidence themselves if they wish. Such citations of evidence are not only acceptable reasoning, but are necessary to avoid plagiarism.

Expert opinion can also constitute evidence and is often accepted as such by the courts.  For example, if you describe your symptoms to your doctor and he or she provides an opinion that you have a certain illness, that opinion is evidence that you have that illness. It is not necessary for your doctor to cite references when giving you his or her expert opinion, let alone convince you with a cogent argument. In some cases, expert opinion can carry sufficient inductive strength on its own.

Dissipation of media accountability

I have no doubt that the benefits of the internet generally outweigh the costs.  However, there are some downsides that need be considered rather than just glossed over.  An obvious negative is the decline of newspapers and competent professional journalism.  Specialist science or medical journalists are a rarity these days.  Generalist journalists often get their science stories wrong, or engage in misleading false balance – the equating of professional expertise with amateur ignorance.

Another problem is the blurring of the distinction between journalism and blogging – and I say this as a blogger myself.  Unlike bloggers, journalists are subject to professional standards and editorial control. Some bloggers are anonymous, which removes their accountability to even their own readers for the accuracy of what they write.

There is a risk that when non-experts google, they are inclined to give equal weight to information from both professional journalists and amateur bloggers, regardless of its reliability and accuracy.

Benefits of expertise

Whilst experts are human and can mistakes, they have a pretty good batting average compared to laypersons.  The advice that experts provide is far more likely to be true than advice from non-experts in the field in question.  This has obvious benefits for society as a whole, for example in terms of public health and safety, environmental protection and managing the economy.  There are good reasons why we don’t let amateurs design aircraft, bridges and tall buildings.  But there are also some major benefits for the individual in listening to advice from experts as opposed to non-experts.

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For instance, if you trust your doctor, you’re actually more likely to do better when you’re sick, according to a study recently published by General Hospital Psychiatry.  This study, of 119 people with either breast, cervical, intestinal or prostate cancer, found that from three months following diagnosis, those patients who did not trust their doctors were not only more distressed but also more physically disabled.  They were less likely, for example, to be able to go for long walks or take care of themselves.  Patients who felt anxious about being rejected and abandoned suffered the most from not trusting their doctors.

Trusting your doctor has clear health benefits. You’ll be more likely to try new drugs, follow your treatment plan (jointly agreed with your trustworthy doctor), share important medical information, take preventative measures (e.g. screening) and have better-controlled diabetes and blood pressure.

Up to half of the failures in treatment reported by patients are due to not following the regime suggested by doctors.  This increases the risk of hospitalisation and extended ill health.  Another study at the University of California has found a small but statistically significant association between how much patients trusted their doctors and how much their symptoms improved within two weeks (allowing for different factors that could have influenced the outcome).

As Professor Michael Clark has said, people who use Dr. Google to diagnose their symptoms before visiting an actual doctor, sometimes ask to be tested for diseases they do not have, or waste time seeking a second opinion because they are convinced that their ‘research’ has led them to a correct diagnosis. If it were really that easy, would doctors have to spend all those years in medical school? Prof. Clark has also said that:

“Using Google to find the answer to Trivial Pursuit questions is not the same as researching a complex question. Experts do have skills and one of those is the ability to use high quality sources, up to date theoretical frameworks, and critical thinking based on their experience in a particular field. This is why an expert’s answers are going to be more accurate and more nuanced than a novice.”

References

Clark, M., and Lawler, S., ‘Why we need to listen to the real experts in science’.  The Conversation. January 1, 2015.

Harding, T., ‘Argument from authority’. The Logical Place. June 23, 2013.

Hinnen et al. ‘Lower levels of trust in one’s physician is associated with more distress over time in more anxiously attached individuals with cancer’. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2014 Jul-Aug;36(4):382-7.

Lewandowsky, S., and Pancost, R., ‘Are you a poor logician?‘ Logically, you might never know’. The Conversation. November 6, 2014.

Nichols, T., ‘The Death Of Expertise’. The Federalist, January 17, 2014.

Stokes, P., ‘No, you’re not entitled to your opinion’. The Conversation. October 5, 2012.

Thom, D.H., et al. ‘Measuring Patients’ Trust In Physicians When Assessing Quality Of Care’.  Health Aff (Millwood), University of California. 2004 Jul-Aug;23(4):124-32.

Further reading

Nichols, T., ‘The Death Of Expertise’. Oxford University Press, 2017.

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