The organised hypocrisy of experts

Controlling context

Modern society in general and the academic institution in particular depend on systems and processes that allow perceived experts to control the context in which so-called facts are understood. Efforts to manage  the unexpected ways contexts change and the relevance of facts shifts is a powerful form of organised hypocrisy, writes Steve Fuller. 

When the late US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan quipped, ‘You’re entitled to your own beliefs but not your own facts’, he forgot to explain that it was because the facts belong only to the experts. The hidden conceit is Platonic: The plebs have ‘beliefs’, the experts ‘facts’. Moynihan’s mode of address is characteristic of experts. What the experts say may be true but it’s never the whole truth because they are hiding the context from you. In this sense, expertise is an especially potent form of organized hypocrisy.

To be sure, the experts themselves control only some of the relevant context. The par

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