But climate change experts opposed to [Prime minister Julia Gillard’s idea of creating a citizens panel to discuss climate change] were saying ‘these are citizens, they are not experts on climate change’. The environmentalists were even worse. They were saying, ‘we don’t want citizens because ordinary folk are selfish, they only care about guzzling gas, they want to have big carbon footprints. So we want a proper committee of experts.’ And in the end, when the assembly was set up, Gillard had basically got rid of the idea of an assembly of normal people and had stuffed it with the experts instead.
—From “It’s time to stand up for courage and conviction” by Frank Furedi.
When TSA chief John “Grab, Grip, & Grope” Pistole was asked how he was able to calculate that massaging people’s pertinents made air travel immune from terrorist attack, how, that is, he was able to muster the insight necessary to discern that at least three, and not less than three, fingers must trace the contours of each man’s two balls and a strike and each woman’s home run before he or she was safe to fly, he replied that he relied on “Experts.”
This answer was accepted. But nobody thought to ask who these experts were or how they gained their expertise. We can imagine that the interview Pistole conducted to vet his experts went like this.
Pistole Gentlemen, please sit down.
Experts Thank you, sir.
Jane—36-24-38—Pistole’s secretary I’ll be keeping the minutes.
Pistole Let’s begin by outlining your expertise.
Expert #1 Well, sir, we are experts. I, for example, am an expert of long standing.
Expert #2 I too am an expert, and generally acknowledged to be one by other experts.
Pistole Just for the record, would you please state how each of you received your expertise? Once we start rubbing people the wrong way—get it? get it?—right Jane?—I don’t want it said that I developed this plan because of prurient interests.
Expert #1 My expertise was gained under the famous Dr J——-, who everybody knows was the expert’s expert. Dr J——-, as you probably know, began his career as a proctologist in San Francisco.
Expert #2 I wasn’t as lucky as my colleague. Dr J——- was before my time. However, I was able to study under Mr M——-, who was a protégé of Dr J——-‘s. Plus, I have subscribed to the Playboy channel for over a decade. My knowledge of external human anatomy is unparalleled.
Jane Sir, you’ll have to verbalize that wink if you want it placed in the record.
Pistole Ha ha! She got you there. I think we can move on. Let’s—.
Jane —Just a minute, sir. There might be a few more questions you should ask.
Pistole More questions?
Jane Yes, sir. You see, sir, I served as secretary for President Obama’s science advisor, John Holdren, when he was asked to form a committee to discuss the influence of climate change on the public. We don’t want the same thing that happened to him to happen to you, sir.
Pistole We certainly don’t! What, uh, happened?
Jane A major criticism was that Dr Holdren did not include any actual citizens on the panel. The press said——
Pistole ——Oh, we won’t worry about that. People don’t know how to make decisions for themselves. That’s what we’re here for.
Expert #1 As an expert, I can verify that.
Expert #2 I have done a complete study proving that it would be better if people let other people make decisions for them.
Jane If you say so, sir. But some might question how the experts who trained these gentlemen themselves received their expertise.
Pistole Obviously, from other experts.
Jane Yes, sir. But don’t we run into an infinite regress? Because how did the experts who trained the experts who trained the experts receive their expertise, and so on?
Pistole Look, honey, even I don’t understand what you’re saying. And if I don’t, then nobody else can either.
Expert #1 As an expert, I take exception to what you imply.
Jane I’m not implying anything, sir. Just making a logical point.
Expert #2 I’m not sure how logical it is, my dear, since it doesn’t appear to make sense.
Jane Whatever you gentlemen say. But there is one more difficulty, sir.
Pistole And that is?
Jane People will ask how you were capable of empaneling experts in a subject in which you yourself have no expertise.
Pistole Oh, that’s easily explained.
Pistole I have a government appointment.