The Tone of Knowing

I have always had an immediate negative response to expertise, but Richard Dawkins helped me see that I am not antagonistic in the least to expertise.  Of course,  I must rely on it regularly.

Rather, what I am almost reflexively irritated by is the sound of most expertise. It tends to be delivered as if it is a Platonistic certitude that all but a nimrod would recognize as self-evident. I certainly understand the rhetorical strength  that sound may have for most people with whom an expert is communicating. But to me the sound signals  potential flim flam.

Dawkins has an outstanding discussion of evolution in The Magic of Reality: How We know What Is Real. But on multiple occasions, probabilities are announced as certitudes.  As with another wonderful mind, that of Nassim Taleb, Dawkins seems to have little sense of the ethos his tone provides.

Add a Comment