TED Talks – “How To Use Experts and When Not To” by Noreena Hertz

Below is my summary of Noreena Hertz’s ode to “experts”, and a mission statement to those who “follow” semi-blindly. What Noreena had to say was something we all know but don’t hear enough. It is easy to tell people to stop acting like herds of sheep and mindless cattle. It is easy to tell people to ‘think for yourself’, ‘speak up’, and ‘use your gut feeling’. It is difficult to express why it is important to understand both sides of the story. She communicates the importance of empathizing with both the storyteller and the audience. She leaves you with the “why”, which will question your own roles you’ve adopted as an expert, and hopefully answer them at the same time.    

All too often we put all of our trust into experts. They have the information and knowledge we need. They have the experience and credentials to back it up. We rely on them to answer our questions. But many times, experts are wrong. Experts make mistakes.

Experts must prove themselves. If we hold them on pedestals, they must guarantee their place. We must challenge them. We must stir up controversy, argument, debate, and conflict to ensure our experts are truly leading us safely and responsibly. We must persist.

High quality answers require high quality questions. If we hope to get the most out of our experts, we must be armed with questions that shake up their methodologies, opinions, and actions.

On the other side, as experts, we need to value disagreement, discord, and difference.

Redefining the relationship with experts means to amplify the voice of democracy, rebellion, and doubt. We must all understand that the question is just as, if not, more important than the answer. And that the experts we all blindly follow can make mistakes, falter, and descend when critiqued with confident disagreement.

In order to create experts of the highest regard, we must create them ourselves. Sitting back ignorantly, passively taking in their every word puts everyone at a disadvantage.  We must actively partake and dispute, dare to confront and challenge, until we get the most out of our so called “experts”. This healthy back and forth prevents stagnation. It ensures a passion and desire to always be learning, sharing, and growing.