In Science Could Have It all Wrong, Ethan comes to the conclusion that we should all trust the experts. The most controversial bit is surely where he takes the impressive successes of modern cosmology to be a good reason to trust experts on topics like global warming. Some bad guy put the following outrageous commentary:

Experts do not fall from the sky, they are selected by a self-reinforcing, thereby emergent establishment which one cannot join without subscribing to certain highly questionably core beliefs in the first place.

I did not have to be a GR expert yet to mistrust the consensus against emergent gravity for example already many years ago, I only needed to look at how the consensus was defended in order to know that the experts were not basing their opinion on expertise. And so it goes with much of what has been/is told by medical experts (nutrition/drugs/...) and in other areas directly relevant to people. With all this in mind and given the financial and political stakes involved in global warming/GMO/ ..., given that human perception is ridiculously selective and under the guide of rationalization plus that the experts in any field do belong to a certain group or even class, how can one tell people to just trust experts?

We do whenever experts agree with our opinion and the persons addressed are judged too silly to get to the same opinion.

Establishment conspiracy? Who is right? Maybe we can attain a clearer perspective by looking not at emotionally laden issues like vaccines/autism, climate change, or say experts on nuclear reactors. Many are certain that politics plays no role in the exact sciences, say physics. Let me not get into the history, which would involve climbing a mountain of wrong expert consensus, but stay with two current issues that are going through a revolution as we speak; you know - just making sure that all you well-that’s-all-in-the-past wishful thinkers may sober up.

The Dawn of Quantum Biology [1] claims that biological systems exploiting quantum processes are a revolutionary new discovery by experts, completely unexpected. Establishment “experts” told us that such is totally impossible [2] in warm and wet biological systems, because quantum superposition decays in mere femto seconds. Now, experts write stuff like:

striking evidence that ... superposition states persist for more than 400 [femto seconds] after photo-excitation. It is remarkable that electronic coherence spans ... over a distance of 25 Å. [3]


Quantum Control and Entanglement in a Chemical Compass [4] increased this to 10 nano seconds, and Sustained Quantum Coherence and Entanglement in the Avian Compass [5] makes now almost a whopping millisecond (!) out of it:

In summary the reported sensitivity to rf fields implies that both amplitude and phase (and thus entanglement) are indeed protected within the avian compass. The time scales are at least tens of microseconds even for a pure dephasing environment, and hundreds of microseconds for the more general models.

How some birds may see earth’s magnetic field by exploiting quantum coherence between two radical molecules of up to hundreds of micro seconds.

The funny thing is: We are told that nobody could have possibly foreseen such and all those that have proposed it all along (in this case people like H. P. Stapp, S. R. Hameroff, or R. Penrose to name just the famous ones) go unmentioned. We are not told that those who always held the connection between consciousness and quantum physics highly likely for extremely good reasons, are simply not included into the circle of experts on these topics!

Let’s take another example, namely emergent gravity. Finally it seems that one may come out of the closet and confess to hold it likely that relativity theory is not fundamental but an emergent symmetry, something that is indicated since like, well, actually all along. One newer version of emergent gravity is Eric Verlinde’s, which Eric explains in this interesting talk on the recent Strings 2011 conference, thereby proving that emergent gravity has arrived and is granted access onto the big stage.

I wrote already about something similar here, so let me just copy again:

The irony is: In twenty years or so we will hear the usual elitist crap about that “nobody could have foreseen”, or “as the relevant literature clearly shows, even the brightest did not expect, maybe could not have possibly envisioned” … . There is a book about emergent gravity coming out soon; it starts similarly about that “the philosophical discourse was taken by surprise by the recent advent of emergent gravity …”. Yeah, right, if the “philosophical discourse” is defined by people who a century after Einstein already understood the so called “Hole Problem”, still write about it being a problem while killing anything about emergent gravity via “peer review” and “editing”, then of course “the philosophical discourse was taken by surprise”.

That was ranting about the philosophical discourse, but working on emergent gravity was and some places still is also immediate career suicide in the realm of physics proper. If you did not already have a very safe position, you could not admit to, let alone publish anything on emergent relativity. In other words again: Having an opinion that does not conform to the establishment consensus means not to get access to the circle of experts in the first place!

Opinion labeled as expertise is only one aspect of it. Moreover, a rewriting of history goes along with it, neglecting all those sane voices that based their opposition to the established consensus on their actual expertise. You do not hear any apology to the many as ether-crackpots rejected people who lost their careers over the years during the reign of the relativity-is-fundamental doctrine.

This whitewashed presentation of history is how the elites want to spare themselves embarrassment but also, perhaps unconsciously, want to ensure conformity: Even while knowing that they do not have the truth, we are supposed to believe that only the officially labelled "experts" alone are clever enough to find out the improved truth and that if we instead look at anybody not being granted official expert status, we will only find silly stuff that is yet more wrong, much more wrong than the little tiny bit of detail that the experts may be still missing.

We are to believe that the experts have the best approximation to the truth, which is the only truth we may hope to attain. In reality, the experts have first and foremost one thing: Attained a position of power where they may call themselves experts.


[1] Philip Ball: Nature 474, 272-274 (2011)

[2] M. Tegmark: “Importance of quantum decoherence in brain processes.” Phys Rev E 61(4), 4194 (2000)

[3] Collini, Elisabetta, Wong, Cathy Y., Wilk, Krystyna E., Curmi, Paul M. G., Brumer, Paul,&Scholes, Gregory D.: “Coherently wired light-harvesting in photosynthetic marine algae at ambient temperature.” Nature 463(7281), 644-647 (2010) DOI:10.1038/nature08811

[4] Jianming Cai, Gian Giacomo Guerreschi, and Hans J. Briegel Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 220502(2010)

[5] Erik M. Gauger, Elisabeth Rieper, John J. L. Morton, Simon C. Benjamin, and Vlatko Vedral: Phys.Rev. Lett. 106(4), 040503 (2011)