The modern political landscape is more complicated than ever before. Average Americans are bewildered by the diversity of opinion on many of today’s political issues and sometimes don’t know how to make up their minds about what they believe. Is climate change real? What is ‘quantitative easing’ and is it good for the economy? Should we bail out an important institution that employs thousands of people? These are some the questions that average Americans are grappling with. So how exactly is the average American supposed to formulate an opinion on so many complex and intricate issues?
The short answer is, they shouldn’t! Issues like climate change and quantitative easing are vastly complex and only a handful of established scientists and economists are qualified to answer questions about them. The average American needs to defer to the leading experts for opinions on each of these intricately complex issues. Take climate change for example. The leading climate scientists have dedicated decades to studying the effects of carbon dioxide on the climate. The average American can hardly be expected to formulate a more informed opinion on matters of climate change than a dedicated scientist.
So the question then becomes: “which experts should I trust?”. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question, but there are some good indicators you can use to guide you in the right direction:
1. Academic Qualifications
First and foremost, check their qualifications. If a loud-mouthed financier is voicing unusual opinions about the economy and recommending policies that deviate from the consensus among leading economists, check their credentials. Most likely they are an ignorant investor or stockbroker with no real economic education and certainly no experience in research and advising economic policy.
Having an education is one thing, but having an education from a prestigious institution means a lot more. If someone has a belief that deviates from the prevailing opinion at leading institutions, this is a red flag. Prestigious Ivy League colleges pick the best and the brightest minds, so any prevailing opinion in an Ivy League department can probably be trusted and deviations thereof can be safely ignored. If the deviants really have genuinely convincing cases, then the leading minds will agree in time.
If somebody claims to be an expert in a particular industry or field, it stands to reason that should also have experience at some of it’s leading institutions. Consider a financial professional who claims that quantitative easing is nothing but ‘printing money’ and that it does nothing but harm to the economy. Unless this person has at least a decade’s experience working for a central bank or a leading financial institution, he better have a very good reason to disagree with the world’s leading economists and financiers. Experience is key when you’re navigating uncharted territory, and only a select few have the impressive repertoire of experience necessary to answer today’s burning political questions.
If you ever find yourself struggling to make up you mind about an extremely complicated issue, remember, the question is not what you should believe but who, and the answer to that question can be found only by carefully examining the credentials of the world’s leading experts.