Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament
Making decisions about complex public policy issues inevitably involves the assistance of experts. On occasion, however, experts in a given area disagree in their judgements.
In such cases, how can non-experts go about deciding which experts to believe?
Expert disagreement is one of the issues addressed in a recent Parliamentary Library research paper, Expertise and public policy: a conceptual guide.
As noted in the paper, expert disagreement poses a problem because by definition non-experts are not in a strong position to decide which of the experts' judgements is the most correct.
Using social expertise
The paper argues that the only way that non-experts are able to appraise expertise... Read more...
In recent years the number of highly technical policy issues considered by the Australian Parliament has increased. This means members and senators are obliged to grapple with the technical issues associated with all manner of topics, some of which have scientific or technological aspects. But in order to reach a considered position and to have an authoritative basis for decision making, members and senators must achieve some grasp of these technical issues. Thus, members and senators often find themselves in a difficult position—one that is shared by other non-experts: that is, that their ability to understand and reach a considered, informed judgement on the technical aspects of many deba... Read more...