In 2020, we have seen a series of incidents of so-called public health ‘experts’ lighting their credibility on fire. This governance by scientism has betrayed the trust of the public – and it is no wonder that there are now widespread doubts about the safety of proposed vaccines.

Over the last decade, these intellectual-yet-idiots said “climate change is the greatest threat to global health” and wasted our taxpayer-funded resources on ineffective sugar taxes that achieved nothing towards even their stated aim of combatting obesity. Then, when an actual public health emergency of a global pandemic came around, they said the risk to our community was “medium to low” before discouraging people from wearing masks even in late May (!!!). Despite their repeated failures, and the fake news that these people were peddling, there have been no apologies, no regrets, and no self-awareness that a different course of action would mean less people would have died from this coronavirus pandemic. It’s no wonder that the public doesn’t trust what they’re told.

Even now, Public Health Isle of Man has revealed themselves to be a dogmatic and ideologically hamstrung organisation – so much so that they have just launched a so-called “Winter Health” campaign (in 2020!) without even mentioning COVID-19. Of course, this is the same group that went from downplaying the risk of the virus to reducing public communications in the midst of the greatest public health disaster of our lifetime. It is no wonder that the public holds these so-called “experts in such low regard when their one (and so far only!) attempt at a Twitter Cornavirus “fact check” was to mock racism.

This is not a problem unique to the Isle of Man. It is a global problem, and we see it very obviously in the USA:

What’s been lost since the Eisenhower years isn’t widely shared prosperity (we are radically better off today than we were then) or uprightness and honesty in government (Eisenhower treated his wife shamefully and had Richard Nixon as his vice president), or even social stability (the anarchy sowed in the 1950s was reaped in the 1960s), but something altogether different from any of these: trust.

There Will Be No ‘Return to Normalcy’

That article by Kevin Williamson, There Will Be No ‘Return to Normalcy’, is excellent throughout. It makes the point that we have had a bunch of arrogant intellectual-yet-idiots claim to be experts – but the fatal conceit of these fake-experts was that they thought they were smarter than they really were. These fake-experts mistakenly thought that ultra-complex human systems could be managed in the same way that you can manage an engine, or a mathematical calculation, or a bridge. Humans just cannot be engineered the same way that concrete and steel can be. They are different things, as Williamson convincingly argues:

Human affairs are not an engineering question and cannot be “solved” like an algebra problem. The physical world is made up of atoms and energy, but the social world is made up of human beings and the incomprehensible complexity of their interconnected lives. We did not get Asimov’s thinking machines — we got Facebook, that vast representation of original sin in digital form. We asked government to solve problems that cannot be solved by government or by anybody else, thinking that we could win a “war on poverty” in the same way we’d won the war on Germany and Japan. (Oh, you too, Italy — you too.) Political “science” and pragmatism turned out to be new cloaks for ideology and self-dealing, the trustees of institutions exchanged their postwar idealism for comfortable careerism, and Walter Cronkite turned out to be a bigot and a nut.

There Will Be No ‘Return to Normalcy’

The hubris of the fake-expert is very similar to the wonderful chapter “The Intellectual Yet Idiot” from the outstanding book, Skin in the Game. It is well worth reading in its entirety, but it coincides with many populist uprisings over the last four years:

What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

The Intellectual Yet Idiot

Although the “Intellectual Yet Idiot” chapter was written back in 2016, it predicts almost perfectly the failures of public health fake-experts in 2020. They were wrong about the risk of COVID-19 to the Isle of Man, they were wrong about wearing masks, and still, not one of them has apologised for the wrong advice they gave. Add Coronavirus to this list from 2016:

The IYI has been wrong, historically, on Stalinism, Maoism, GMOs, Iraq, Libya, Syria, lobotomies, urban planning, low carbohydrate diets, gym machines, behaviorism, transfats, freudianism, portfolio theory, linear regression, Gaussianism, Salafism, dynamic stochastic equilibrium modeling, housing projects, selfish gene, election forecasting models, Bernie Madoff (pre-blowup) and p-values. But he is convinced that his current position is right.

The Intellectual Yet Idiot

The public knows that these fake-experts were repeatedly wrong. And the first step towards re-earning the trust of the public (so that the public does prudent things like take vaccines!) would be to apologise for their errors, and show some humility. But the Intellectual-Yet-Idiot class won’t apologise, until there are more disruptions to their world view.

Michael Josem is a long-term consumer advocate, most prominently as a global leader in combating fraud in the online gambling industry. He was in part the inspiration for the 20th Century Fox Movie, Runner Runner, starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.

Josem has over a decade of experience as a senior business leader working across various high-tech and online industries, and takes action to build a better community. His primary volunteer roles include service for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Graih, the homelessness charity.