Columbia University historian Mark Lilla does a short Q&A in this week’s New York Times book review.
[T]here’s another factor, I think, and that is the centrality of economic policy to our politics today, and its inherent complexity. Though wars are complicated things, it’s not hard to develop a defensible position about their legitimacy or illegitimacy. But you need to know a fair amount about finance to make any sense, for example, of the bank collapses and bailouts of 2008-9 and the stimulus that followed. Very few people have that, but in a democracy everyone is supposed to have an opinion about everything. Everyone’s opinion is supposed to matter; you shouldn’t need higher education to chime in. But on economic policy you do. This opens the field to charlatans who demonize educated elites and reassure people that “it’s really all very simple.”
The emphasis is mine.
Though I agree that there certainly are many charlatans who demonize educated elites and have simple (and almost surely mistaken) answers to complex questions, I find that, on matters of social science, many people think they know more than they actually do (because hey, they live in society!) and are prone to dismiss experts as ideological hacks. Continue reading