These 'Experts' Are Anything But

One thing that has always bothered me about the folks in Congress is their incredible ignorance and arrogance when it comes to technology and science. Very few members of Congress have the background or expertise to make law or policy on science and technology matters. Far too often they get it wrong, meaning the nation and the economy suffer for it. After all, what do they know?

The answer, in a word, is obvious: they know pretty much nothing. What's worse is that they don't feel that ignorance should preclude them from talking until there is an initial technical investigation, done by some technically qualified people (from various reputable organizations). (We saw this same rush to judgment by the know-nothings after the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986.)

To me, all this is just another manifestation of the sad, ironic reality that engineers have made the incredibly difficult look way too easy. Everyone thinks it's all no big deal and not very hard, so it's easy to be an expert. It's happened in nearly all engineering and scientific disciplines.

People in general have little or no understanding of the technology they use every day, but at least they know they don't understand it and are willing to admit they don't understand it. All they know is that they can use it. Unfortunately Congress doesn't know that they don't know, and that's the problem. This false belief means they will, more often than not, come to the wrong conclusions about some scientific or technological issue. It also means that the rest of us will pay the price for their decisions, one way or another.

I'm not saying that Congress shouldn't get involved with such issues. But they should be more willing to take the time to learn about them well before deciding anything. There are very few science or technology issues that require immediate action by Congress. Unfortunately Congress doesn't realize this, or worse, they don't care. It's all about posturing and politics and power and not about the actual issues.