Talk:Expert for hire

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Possible Project/Category Creation?[edit]

This seems like it it should be a far more expansive article to me, this is an extremely damaging and common practice. Should this perhaps become one of those ongoing projects, that as they pop up we write? As well, should we possibly have a category for these people as well? It seems within the wikis' scope, and could also be fun. What say others? -- EWildman (talk)

Is this a derogatory term applied to such persons - or do they call themselves such, in an attempt to be confused with the legit 'expert witnesses'? (talk) 16:41, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

I think it would be good to expand upon, it seems to be a big focus of how many cranks tend to get their ideas put into public. I was hoping another person had a bit more experience in dealing with these weirdos, I have some second hand knowledge only.
It's a tough objective call between expert witnesses, who work in the field daily (or retired), and experts for hire, whose lively hood is only based on getting paid for trials (after insanity or disgrace). Experts for hire love to confuse the terms because it keeps them in business. ~ Subsound ~ 22:22, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

When are someone actually an EXPERT for hire?[edit]

I think the categorisation employed in the article is getting far too fuzzy and all-encompassing.

Hence, I propose that in order to qualify as an expert for hire, a subject must:

  1. Be an actual expert, i.e. possess a valid degree from an actual academic institution (and no, “Christian Education” doesn’t count).
  2. Be sponsored by a third party to shill for them (i.e. not simply rambling on your own dime - see also Nobel disease).
  3. Ideally have a history of shilling for more than one third party. While the absence of this last type of mercenary behaviour is not necessarily a reason to exclude someone, its presence in conjunction with the first two can be taken as definite evidence of an expert for hire.

The reason I suggest these criteria is to distinguish experts for hire from cranks, charlatans, pseudoscholars, and apologists. These are not actually experts in anything and what I consider the hallmark of an expert for hire is exactly that their expertise is what lends credence to their shilling.

To make it clear, let me provide some examples of some persons I’d consider experts for hire, some I think fall clearly outside the category and some who are in a grey area:

  • Frederick Seitz and S. Fred Singer are the poster children for experts for hire (as documented in Merchants of Doubt - see the bibliography section in their RW articles): Both were once legitimate scientists who later became shills for a number of causes (peddling denialism about acid rain, secondhand smoke, climate change, nuclear winter etc.). These efforts were financed (often quite lavishly) by various corporate and political sponsors (e.g. the tobacco and oil industries). They also fit the pattern of ultracrepidarianism typical of experts for hire (they were once legitimate physicists doing actual research, but their shilling was almost entirely outside their area of expertise).
  • ”Dr.” Kent Hovind (and you could pencil in Carl Baugh, Ken Ham or any other two-bit fundie apologist you’d care to mention) clearly falls outside the expert for hire category, since he’s not actually an expert, having only a diploma mill certificate and not even any relevant experience. Furthermore, he’s not actually shilling for a third party (no, his own organisation and his deity of choice don’t count).
  • Dr. William Lane Craig might be considered a bit of a borderline case, but I’d argue that he’s not an expert for hire. While he does have a legitimate degree and does float around the US evangelical literalist parallel (pseudo)educational echo chamber, he lacks the clear mercenary aspect evinced by Seitz and Singer. He is “merely” an apologist with a degree and some fancy sounding lingo, who makes his living by preaching to the choir (pun intended) at similarly dressed up fundie schools.
  • Linus Pauling while also once a legitimate scientist who later turned to crankery and pseudoscience also falls outside my proposed categorisation, since (as far as I know) his quackery and pseudoscientific exploits were not exactly mercenary efforts on behalf of others (again in stark contrast to Seitz & Singer).

So, what does (the rest of) the mob think? Am I being overly strict in my criteria or is this more narrowly conceived definition more useful? ScepticWombat (talk) 19:41, 11 May 2018 (UTC)

@ScepticWombat I do believe you've hit the nail on the head with your criteria, and would be more than willing to support changes to the article based on your reasoning. Apologists and average woo pushers in it for themselves should not be categorized as Experts for hire. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 19:51, 11 May 2018 (UTC)
@GrammarCommie (and anyone else who’s interested): Okay, I’ve given it a go overhauling the article based on my proposed criteria. I think I’ll put them in the lead, just to make it crystal clear. ScepticWombat (talk) 23:42, 11 May 2018 (UTC)
I’m done with the overhaul. I hope the mob approves. ScepticWombat (talk) 02:16, 12 May 2018 (UTC)
@ScepticWombat Thanks to your overhaul this article is approaching Bronze status (at least in my opinion). With more sources it should reach that goal. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 14:35, 15 May 2018 (UTC)