RaeAnne SmithSenior SeminarClover: Period 6 How important are the opinions of experts in the search for knowledge? Expert opinions, such as those of scientists, doctors, professors at universities, andphilosophers among many others provide the basis of the knowledge that everyday citizens have.These experts do extended research on the topics of knowledge and share their discoveries withthe world. Seeing them as experts, people take their word as the truth. Experts have done theworld favors, especially in the areas of science. The field of science has expanded tremendouslyin the last one hundred years, thanks to these experts. However, experts are subject to any andevery of the same fallacies that affect everyday citizens. Although experts provide insight topeople in their search for knowledge, it should not be overlooked that they are subject to thesame fallacies especially in the ways of knowing of emotion and perception. Experts provide information and insight in certain topics that everyday people are notaware of. One example of an expert providing evidence to people is the well-known philosopher,Plato. Plato came up with the definition of knowledge as "K=JTB" or knowledge equals justifiedtrue belief. This means that in order to have knowledge, one must also claim to have the truth,believe it to be truth and that this true belief must have justification. Platos definition of the truthis very objective and absolute. Plato also believes that the only way one can have true knowledgeis through math, which is rational and absolute and that every other subject such as language,history or science, is limited to fallacies and cannot be used to have knowledge. Many people usehis definition as a platform for their own beliefs as well. Platos philosophy about truth ispractical and is valuable for other people to base their ideas and beliefs off of. In this sense, theopinions of experts are valuable in the search for knowledge.
Although experts can provide valuable insight in the search for knowledge, they are stillsubject to the same limitations as those of normal people. One of the ways of knowing that canaffect experts is emotion. Emotion can influence a persons decision, and the consequences ofthis can be negative. Their intentions can be easily swayed in the presence of emotion. Emotionalcoloring can make them exclude some aspects of reality, which can have serious implications. Aworld leader, such as the president of the United States, represents his country and what thepeople of the country want. Emotional energy is also a factor that affects the work ethic ofeveryone, including experts. If a scientist is doing research on a topic that they plan to release tothe public and they become worn out from all of the work, they would be less motivated to workand more likely to make mistakes or perhaps manipulate data to get the results they want.Although experts put extra effort into certain topics which make them more insightful than mostpeople, they are subject to the same fallacies as normal people, hindering their importance. Experts are also affected by the fallacies associated with the way of knowing ofperception. An example of this is seen in Marie Curie. Curie was a physicist and chemist knownfor her research on radioactivity. She discovered the element, Radium and found it useful forfighting cancers. As a result, many people understood Radium to be beneficial to the body.Radium was then used in face creams called "Tho- Radia" and "Radiator" as Radium caused theskin to glow. Radium was also used in other common products such as watches and clocks tomake them glow in the dark. Later, it was found that the use of Radium in such ways wasextremely dangerous and resulted in the deaths of many from the effects of radiation. In thiscase, Marie Curie suffered from the limitations of perception. From her five senses, Radiumappeared to be beneficial to the human body and the "glow" that it added to skin made it lookmore healthy. Her perception prevented her from seeing the negative effects of the Radium that
ended up resulting in the deaths of many people. Although her perception was just as limited asthat of any person, regular people considered her to be an "expert" and to believe what she saidabout Radium as the truth. Although experts provide people with knowledge, they still have thesame issues with perception and emotion, which limits their credibility. Although experts help people in their search for knowledge, they should not be given fullcredibility because they have the same issues with knowledge such as perception and emotion.The word of experts should not be taken without questioning as they are not always in the right.People should also rely on themselves and their own personal experiences to help guide them intheir search for knowledge.