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The rise of social media means that experts willing to share their knowledge are more accessible to the public. One might think that communication between experts and decision-makers should be very good. But this is not the case.
Outlets are flooded with self-appointed 'experts' who lack real expertise. In every domain where decision-makers need experts or specialized knowledge, they will compete with those who don't have relevant knowledge.
Real experts are often confident in their claims, but in the private market, the opposite can be more common.
Mixing the information of the pundit, scholar, and consultant creates information noise that makes it difficult for decision-makers to know what to do.
When communicating scientific knowledge to policymakers and the public, there are three levels of questions:
Knowing which questions fall into which category requires expertise. Politicians and executives might be experts in the area of decision-making, but they are seldom experts in the areas where they make decisions.
When there are decisions that require an expert perspective, the real experts might admit that they don't know, making the decision-maker vulnerable to uninformed experts who convince them that they have the answers.
True expertise means knowing the limits of one's knowledge.
Institutions can be designed to encourage real experts to admit uncertainty. The key lies in whether the question was answerable in the first place. Good experts should be willing to say they don't know because it is an unanswerable question. Once the competent experts are saying they don't know, incompetent experts may follow suit.
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