This is so absolutely brilliant and important:
“One thing that experts know, and that non-experts do not, is that they know less than non-experts think they do.”
It comes from Kaushik Basu, currently chief economist at the World Bank and one of the world’s most thoughtful expert-economists.
Economists would be so much more honest (with themselves and the world) if they acted accordingly – letting their audience know that their results and prescriptions come with a large margin of uncertainty. Public intellectuals would do so much less damage if they did likewise. And if experts are not aware of the limits of their knowledge – well, they do not deserve to be called experts or intellectuals.
The real point, though, is that the other side – journalists, politicians, the general public -- always has a tendency to attribute greater authority and precision to what the experts say than the experts should really feel comfortable with. That is what calls for compensating action on the part of the experts.
So if you are an expert hang this gem from Basu prominently on your wall. And next time you talk to a journalist, advise a politician, or take to the stage in a public event, repeat it to yourself beforehand a few times.