The 'expert' ploy of Brandon and Bob Monk

The SE Texas Record Jun. 12, 2011, 5:22am

Eventually, if he lives long enough and makes enough predictions, Harold Camping is going to be right. The world may finally end and the darling of doomsday devotees will be able to say, at long last, "I told you so!"

That's assuming anyone will be around to notice.

The much-hyped psychic Jeane Dixon was credited with a couple of accurate predictions during her lifetime, even as her far more frequent faulty forecasts were forgotten.

As they say, a broken clock is right twice a day.

In 1984, Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky published a delightful book called The Experts Speak. Subtitled The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation, the book catalogues hundreds of gloriously inaccurate assessments and predictions made by bona fide, certified, recognized authorities in their fields.

An updated and expanded version, published in 1998, adds 14 more years of fallacy and folly from the mavens of misinformation.

So-called experts have undue and often undeserved influence in our courts, as well as in society at large, and judges and attorneys are increasingly inclined to challenge the value and validity of their testimony.

Experts, even ones with impressive and relevant credentials and experience, still are subject to the same human frailties as anyone else. Just like ordinary people, they can be mistaken, they can be prejudiced, they can twist or misrepresent the facts.

If skepticism is warranted with experts, how should we react to two plaintiffs attorneys who presume to present themselves as expert witnesses on behalf of their own client?

Attorneys Brandon and Bob Monk represent Larry Judice, owner of Larry's French Market, who filed suit in Jefferson County District Court last August against Republic Powdered Metals, Woodford Commercial Roofing and the W.M. Anderson Co.

Last month the court was informed that the Monks will be expert witnesses in the case. At this point, the area of their expertise remains a mystery. Perhaps the Monk brothers consider themselves authorities on roofing because they've hung out a shingle.

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