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A new conceptualisation of expertise, advice and knowledge

Shawn Callahan has discovered A new conceptualisation of expertise, advice and knowledge via a pamphlet from Demos on The Received Wisdom: Opening up expert advice.

This looks really interesting:

Expertise is about more than evidence. It is also about judgement and wisdom. Our argument is not that we should reject the received wisdom in favour of the wisdom of crowds. But we need to go beyond a simple model of ‘evidence-based policy.’ Drawing on recent case studies and research with ‘lay members’ of expert committees, this pamphlet looks to a new model of expertise which is more diverse, takes better account of uncertainty, is aware of its context and trusts the public.

The pamphlet is 87 pages (down-loadable pdf) in the style, I guess, of the polemics of the 18th and 19th century. But perhaps less controversial. The work is available under a creative commons licence and I will be having a good read.

I've skimmed through the pamphlet, which gives the idea fairly quickly.  The discussion uses the BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopy - "mad cow disease") outbreak in the late 1980 in the UK as a framing device to talk about how expertise and expert opinion has been used in policy-making, and how the public view of "experts" has changed in recent times.  There is some of the familiar ideas of "people no longer trust experts / science" and "lay people become experts" that has been discussed elsewhere.  But the way they go about the writing seems to be geared

Chapter 5 looks particularly interesting in its discussion of expertise and how expertise has been conceptualized in the past, and now it is being understood now.  The old model frames expertise as Closed,  Homogenous, Hubristic, Demanding public trust, Expecting expert consensus and prescription, and Managerial control.  While the new model of expertise suggests expectations need to shift to expertise as Open, Diverse, Humble, Trusting the public, Expecting plural and conditional advice, and Distributed control (Box 2 on p. 69).  They also talk about different perspectives on expertise and how this could inform the political and policy-making practices of governments. 

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