1/26/13

"A Specialist can be trusted too much"

"ALL human beings will agree that a Specialist can be trusted too much; though this will not prevent all political parties from trusting him with everything they want to shirk. But, indeed, we are past the point of trusting experts as experts. We have come to trusting experts even in the things about which they are amateurs. The ordinary practitioner, in a matter of Measles, must give way to a great specialist on Memory; and because another specialist knows more about hydrophobia than a dog, he is also supposed to know more about teeth than a dentist. A man is not only autocratic on one subject, but on all other subjects by right of that subject; and is allowed to be a lord over ten cities because he has been something like a monomaniac in one.This is no exaggeration; a glance at popular magazines and public controversies will give you scores of instances of it. The religion of Haeckel the biologist is more important than his biology. The journalism of a famous cricketer is more prominent than his cricket...You will almost always find that the "authorities" are authorities on some other subject; and that the "representative men" represent nobody and nothing except their own accidental likes and dislikes."

~G.K. Chesterton: Illustrated London News, June 22, 1912.

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