Discussing this topic again.
I have previously discussed the issue of reverse snobbery on the Right, particularly the Far Right, which I define as attacks on so-called “experts,” praise for the accomplishments of non-experts, and populist disdain for academics and others with official degrees (“credentials”). Leading the attack against “credentialism” – against the emphasis on “credentialed” experts and academic expertise – are the HBDers, who always engage in ad hominem to respond to “experts” who call out HBD's pseudoscience, errors, and ludicrous assertions.
The more that the Right attacks experts and academics, the more they alienate such people, and the more we see that academia is dominated by the Left. And the more academia becomes increasingly leftist, the more it is attacked by the Right, and a negative feedback loop therefore emerges, driving more and more educated people, STEM people, academics, and other experts out of rightist politics. This is obviously a destructive, self-defeating process.
People with a "credentialed" background in the scientific “big three” – biology, chemistry, physics – are rare on the Right, particularly the Far Right. Examples to the contrary (like Pierce) stand out so much precisely because they are so rare – the exceptions that prove the rule. Mathematicians, astronomers, and other STEM-related backgrounds are also rare on the Right (and academics in general are underrepresented on the Right).
There are reasons for this, and I have discussed this issue here previously. The emphasis on religion and traditionalism on the Right leads to hostility to science and materialist empiricism. The populist strain on the Right, even by snobbish elitists like William Buckley, also feeds into this. Buckley famously stated that:
I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 people on the faculty of Harvard University.
I leave it up to the reader to decide whether William Buckley actually believed that, and whether he spent more time hobnobbing with Ivy League academics or with the first 2,000 people from a big city telephone directory. Indeed, this populism can go too far, and its hypocrisy is revealed when someone's own personal interests are at stake. If such a populist needed open heart surgery, I’m sure they would prefer it performed by a leading cardiovascular surgeon at a major hospital, rather than by their local butcher who claims to have learned much by dissecting cow hearts.
Do experts make errors? Of course they do. Sometimes these are technical errors, more often they are due to ideology (“there is no such thing as race”) or self-interest (“that is not gain of function”). The problem is that non-experts not only make the same ideological and self-interest errors, but also often make errors because they simply don’t know what they are talking about. Gross ignorance, misinterpretation, cherry picking, etc. lead to real “whoppers” and if so-called experts point that out, then we observe ad hominem claims of “credentialism.” Thus, non-experts are even more likely to make errors than are experts, and then they respond to critics with personal attacks.
Even Johnson had the sense to state that science (unlike cranks) is self-correcting (although ideology and self-interest can delay this for a time); however, HBD pseudoscience and other cranks do not self-correct because they reverse the normal scientific method - they attempt to prove, rather than disprove, their hypotheses, and they start out with the chosen conclusion of a "confirmed" hypothesis and then cherry pick data and invent explanations to justify that, rather than subjecting their ideas to a rigorous proofing process and discarding their ideas if they are falsified. Thus, errors by (scientific) experts are typically discovered and reversed (eventually), usually by other experts, while many non-experts will continue to spew falsehoods and respond to corrections by experts with populist cries of "credentialism."
What of the reverse, what of the likelihood of positive accomplishment?
It is sometimes claimed that non-experts, who are allegedly more open-minded and less beholden to rigid dogma, are more likely than are experts to make great discoveries or produce world-changing inventions. It is true that some great discoveries and inventions have been made by non-experts. But there are caveats to this observation. First, there is confirmation bias; people tend to remember famous cases of non-expert discoveries and inventions, but ignore the myriad non-expert failures, while also ignoring discoveries and inventions made by experts. Second, some non-expert discoverers and inventors were highly educated people expert in some (sometimes, related) field, but simply not in the specific narrow field of their famous accomplishment. Third, many cases of famous non-expert accomplishments occurred in the past, when there was much more “low hanging fruit” of basic things ripe for discovery and invention, and when the barrier to accomplishment was lower than in today’s more specialized, technologically advanced age. Fourth, even when genuine novel discoveries and inventions of great importance have been accomplished by non-experts (of whatever type), experts were and still are necessary to confirm, defend, apply, and extend these non-expert accomplishments.
Both experts and non-experts are important in discovery and invention, and in the role of explanation and application. Experts should not engage in snobbish rejection of non-expert contributions; while non-experts should eschew the reverse snobbery of populist cries of “credentialism” and consider that expert input and criticism may sometimes be both well-intentioned and correct. As non-expert reverse snobbery is more prevalent on the Right, where I am situated politically – and in which I am often made to feel like an alien due to an “expert” STEM background – that is the major focus of my critique here.
You, dear reader, should not be fooled by HBDers, anti-vaxxers, and others who try populist appeals to your vanity with talk of how “we” non-experts are morally superior and more open-minded than “they” experts. Cries of “credentialism” are often nothing more or less than self-interested ad hominem attacks against legitimate critics. Don’t fall for that con job. All ideas, arguments, products, etc. need to be evaluated on their own merits.