Do experts, analysts, gurus,
consultants get too
much power

Deciders must stay deciders and be wary
of too invasive experts and advisers.

Rainmakers all over the place?
Here is an inventory of cases in which experts and guides might have
excessive power and of their incidences on people and society.

Deciders need information or even some guidance, but they must
stay masters of their decisions and keep enough independence.

presentation contagion   Why so many people want to help you?
                  Or to control you?

This article makes a rough inventory of cases in which experts and
other guides might have excessive power
and of their incidences on
people and society.
OK, there are generalizations in that list, but some exaggeration helps
draw the attention on a topic that is rarely put on the table
This topic is obviously controversial,
A kind of advice be wary of advices.
How ambiguous !

But experts have competence, don't they?

OK, experts are sometimes domineering, either naturally, or because
they have their own agenda
But they have a competence,
don't you think? The experience that help
them dissect and disentangle
issues, with immediate dazzling intuitions,
much better than we do, poor
vulgum pecus, don't you think?  ?

Yes, this intuitive ability built on experience, that allows to understand in
a nearly instantaneous way what is at stake,
can also make them to drift

* overconfidence,
* routine solutions (heuristic),
* tunnel vision (focus on an immediate interpretation neglecting
   other scenarios),
* partiality (binary / black or white conclusions),
* lack of attention,
* conformity with their peers,

and to neglect deny / put aside any observation or explanation other

than what they believed they saw in the case at stake.

Also, so as to have an image of competence, they must look confident
in their
statements, at the cost of avoiding alternative scenarios or shuning
prevision ranges.

Of course, it is far from being always the case, and their contribution when
facing a need to take decisions is precious
. But to see it as only a source of
, leaves room (when it is feasible) to your own
and analyses and a quest for other opinions. In topics we don't master fully,
to get informed is the
priority, and experts are an obligatory source, but not
the only one.

Inventory: who are the masters of influence?

Every field of activities has its rainmakers

  • The Milgram experiment was testing dependence obedience
to authorities but also to experts or people consideres as such.
It induced the game contestants to send increasingly strong electric
shocks to other players who gave wrong answers to a quiz.

The trust in experts and the fiction that they took all responsibility
a large majority of players so docile that they went all the
until sending potentially lethal shocks.
are regularly contaminated by peer conformity and tempted to
make similar
often by just extrapolating past data,
or reacting like a herd to the general optimism or pessimism,
usually a bit late.
  • buysell Financial analysts
give usually a single earning projection (instead of several scenarios).
Also they are conditioned by peer conformity. They wait for others
to change their conclusions, thus they react late to new events by
following market price evolutions instead of anticipating.

Also their buy / sell recommendations, instead of leaving investors
draw their own conclusions, are often motivated just to create activity
and fees for their organization.
  • measure Credit rating agencies,
paid by the debt issuers, are often quite slow to downgrade them, or
do it in a rush only after the market started to show doubts.

They are more under-reacting/ overreacting bureaucratic followers
than smart forecasters.
Whether they are useful or damaging is more and more debated.
  • marketSalespeople now labeled "customer advisers"
Well, they better adapt their offer to customer needs and financial
but in reality most of them obey sales objectives.
  • Philosophical and sociological schools.
Some are open and help think by oneself. But others are anchored
on reductive
dogmas and radical theories, and sometimes exploited
by charismatic power-greedy leaders  or organisations. This has
some similarity with religious sects as mentioned below

  • And, more surprisingly scientific paradigms.
Those area of purported rationality have their lemons.
This is a problem is when their star initiators / disseminators tend
to dominate the professional / academic attention, or the general
public attention.
  • mystic Cults, religious gurus and religious "authorities"
usually sticking to binary dogmas and considering heretic
not to follow them
  • The power of the technostructure (managers)
on corporate or government decisions
  • Physicians
subject to diagnosis biases, cognitive and affect heuristics
  • Political leaders pocketing democracy
through election instead of sortition.
  • Also think tanks, lobbies, interest groups
which job is usually to promote partial views
  • Elites / celebrities / role models / trend setters
  • Consultants / coaches
who bring standard solutions supposed being the "best
  • Professors who either preach mainstream knowledge
...or fancy theories, instead of encouraging curiosity.
  • Social / psychological helpers
some might become invasive just to justify their job or
because of their taste to control other people life.
  • Medias
offering half-cooked "tips", and / or their sententious editorials
about the state of affairs.

Consequences : the limits of guidance

Are deciders too weak in the anti-clout guerrilla?

decision decision making, to get information and even guidance
from professionals is an obvious need in our complex and uncertain
world. All the more in highly technical or when a second opinion would
avoid tunnel vision.

The problem starts when those experts gain influence to the extent that
deciders become hypnotized or addicted and abandon its freedom of
investigation, thinking and choice.

Thence several groups of issues, which responsibility falls as well on the
experts as on the deciders.
  • Deciders
who abandon their independence and power
  * either because of mental laziness or gullibility,
* or more pervertedly to hide their responsibility for choices
     they make.

Then they skirt their homework (information gathering, projections,
comparing scenarios and solutions) and they accept -
with just token
questions - what the experts bring them already cooked on a plate.
  • Experts
with excessive clout endangering individual freedom and democratic

Experts with extensive experience have a knack to understand or
feel that there is something telltale in a situation which an amateur
would not notice.

On the other hand,
their own cognitive biases and heuristics, can
make their previsions not fully reliable. T
hey often rely so much
on their experience and intuitive ability that they tend to believe
in their
This can lead to big decision mistakes

Another thing is that deciders want experts to give a clear
not a
range of possibilities (range estimate aversion).
Thus an expert that is not
overconfident in a single estimate is
often seen as a wavering incompetent advisor
that strikes as well experts as "gurutized" deciders.
who, in order to  grab money and benefits, play
 * on a natural human trust
on people's gullibility by giving the
of friendliness, competence and honesty,
 * also
on emotions such as greed or fear.

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M.a.j. / updated :02 Sept. 2015
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