The most social secret about experts makes them political animals. That’s because a key way to become an expert is to have an expert call you one. Networks of experts help here.
Mutual-Adoration Networks (MAN’s)
These networks can be formal or informal. Academia has very formal ones such as colleges and schools inside universities. Committees and societies are other examples. These networks screen potential experts.
The Royal Society is a great example. It established science in 1660. In simple terms, it’s a club. Only its members can recommend and accept new members. Many such formal networks work similarly.
Informal ones are harder to spot. Their most obvious signs show when experts implicitly cite one another’s books, research and other publications. They might also recommend or endorse each other for speaking assignments.
This all makes for messy politics. For instance, who is an expert more likely to recommend, one who cited him frequently or one who did not at all? Thus, it’s not uncommon in even the shortest works to find diverse footnotes referencing other’s work.
In the end, these networks work as mutual-adoration networks (MAN’s). Experts praise and recommend one another. Even negative press adds credibility. Why bother with someone who isn’t an expert?
The Most Social Secret About Experts In Action
While MAN’s pride themselves on their objectivity, their origin and growth are not. A simple example of them in action helps here.
So, take Expert A. Let’s say she says Expert B is good. Now, in turn, Expert B says Expert C is good. Extending this, Expert C does the same for expert D. Finally, D says A is good. We’ve gone full circle.
Excel calls this a circular reference. Sales calls this team selling. Logic calls it circular reasoning. Regardless, research says having best buds brag on one another works. In short then, MAN’s are circular endorsement societies.
Yes, most MAN’s have standards. Who created them? Experts did. Who interprets them to accept new experts? Experts do. That means there are no politically free ways to determine experts.
Why It Matters That Experts Are Political Animals
Experts give much help. However, one still needs a good perspective. Did their ideas gain favor because of great political skills or great outcomes? Moreover, experts are authority figures. Therefore, it’s easy to fall prey to political animals who talk you out of what you believe will work.
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