Eureka and the Problem of Too Many Experts
The moral case for being more skeptical of experts.
Trust the experts.
It's something we've heard a lot over the past two years. The theory behind it is that these people are experts in their particular field and therefore know what should and shouldn't be done. Particularly when it comes to something incredibly serious and consequential for people who aren't experts. It's important to trust that they know best and to do as they ask. This is the whole point of becoming an expert in a particular field. Otherwise it's rather useless to become an expert in such a field. However, there are things people don't realize about experts. Mainly the fact that despite their vast array of knowledge, they are still human beings.
Like any other human being, they make mistakes. They don't always think things through appropriately and often develop instincts about things. Regardless of whether or not it's based on anything approaching the knowledge they have. Expertise is supposed to be a process of trying to avoid making such assumptions and mitigate the effects of instincts. But it's never entirely gone. No matter how much training someone receives, or knowledge they acquire, they will always have some level of those natural human functions. And when they get together, those ideas can be amplified. Especially if they all have the same knowledge or expertise in a particular area. Or even in a variety of areas.
The assumption of the people in the room is that their expertise gives them insight into things that wouldn't otherwise be available. As a result, any decision being made must be the correct one. Even if what ends up happening when the decision is played out doesn't wind up the way they wanted it to. Experts come to the conclusion that there must be some other reason why things didn't end the way they expected. Because it obviously couldn't be their own fault. They are the experts after all. What could possibly go wrong?
Eureka is fundamentally about the answer to that question. When you put a group of experts in one place and have them in charge of literally everything. You would think that they would correct each other. That they would be able to deal with any problems that might come up. But in fact what ends up happening is that the inability to see what they didn't think was important was actually incredibly important, gets amplified. When you don't think things through, you get things wrong more often, not less.
Which is what makes Sheriff Jack Carter, played brilliantly by Colin Ferguson, so important. Precisely because he's not an expert. At least not in the way that everyone else in the town of Eureka is. He sees the errors of the people in charge. What he's an expert in is knowing where and how people fail to understand the obvious. How to stop compounding the negative aspects of human beings’ natural instincts.
Do yourself a favour and check out how experts fail by watching Eureka as soon as you can.
In addition, I would love it if you’d subscribe, whether it’s the free version or the paid version doesn’t matter, it’s going to mean a lot.