Prophets, experts and economists

Once upon a time experts were held in awe. Surrounded in mystique, these high and mighty beings directed governments in leading the people. But as the world got more complex, the experts gradually lost touch with real world matters. The age of the expert came to an end. It was superseded by the era of the economist, who look upon experts as dangerous spendthrift elements that governments need to keep under control. A natural counterweight emerged in the form of think tanks and learned societies. All very well and good, or is it? Governments, alas, are now bombarded on all sides by advice which is often anything but expert. There are signs in the world of electricity generation that prophets make lousy replacements for experts -- and economists do not hold all the answers. The danger is that governments will forge policies based on false pictures of what technology can achieve.

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