The Crises of Expertise and Belief


Leaders and experts are in crisis–as are coaches, consultants, mentors and educators who work to support leaders at all levels. They confront an abundance of challenges that are particularly difficult for leaders who know it all, have narcissistic tendencies or are rigid and resistant to all new ideas. These leaders are most in need of assistance but are often labeled “unteachable” or “un-coachable.” Multiplying this problem are segments of society that are not only utterly fooled and manipulated by these leaders and experts, but also believe their every deceitful utterance. A seemingly counter intuitive psychological driver makes it difficult and nearly impossible to convince these segments of society to believe expert scientists and credible leaders. Many of these people simply don’t want to believe. Their personality types and in-group connectedness drive them to believe “crazy stuff”.

There is a strong tendency for people to believe bazaar conspiracy theories, lies and disinformation propagated by manipulative leaders and pseudo experts. This tendency is magnified by the pervasive presence in our mid-21st Century world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, turbulence and contradiction (which we label VUCA-Plus in this book). It is evident that the roles of leaders, as well as the roles of advisors, experts and lay-people are poorly defined and confused in a VUCA-Plus world when it comes to the creation, verification and use of information. This poor definition is compounded in polarized societies (such we find in the United States). Distrust, rejection and animosity are rampant.  Many people simply don’t trust either the competence or intentions of those claiming to be experts regarding many matters such as health, safety, politics, law and social justice.  The way people view and interact with leaders and experts is complex and diverse. Some of us are skeptical and distrustful, particularly of political leaders and scientific experts. Others believe every word uttered despite indisputable facts to the contrary. This book explores the psychology behind these differences.