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By David Warfield Brown (auth.)

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Extra resources for America’s Culture of Professionalism: Past, Present, and Prospects

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29 At the heart of such failure are the mistaken assumptions made again and again that shape “Thriving on Ignorance” ● 35 prediction. ”33 Scott Page, a leader in the study of complex systems, adds: “In making predictions, experts rely on a few dimensions at most. ”36 That is why the actual experience of nonexperts on the ground, so to speak, is of considerable importance. Many situations that academic experts seek to investigate are far from static, but researchers often prefer to make reality hold still in order to explain it.

47 Ignorance is not a condition that most people willingly acknowledge, so America’s culture of professionalism has led to a kind of well-meaning 38 ● America’s Culture of Professionalism pretension on the part of ambitious professionals. Pretension in this case means letting others assume that you know more than you actually do. A specialist’s pretension naturally arises when others are ignorant, including other specialists. Few professionals are likely to challenge each other’s pretensions to spare themselves the disappointment of discovering or confirming that they share the same conceit.

Significant contributions have been made by those with credentials, but knowledge-based problem solving has not won the day. 61 John Dewey, who was an ardent critic of the progressive era, and Alexis de Tocqueville long before him, saw that shutting citizens out of the process deforms their potential to be more knowledgeable and active. Wide-ranging professionalized government and nongovernmental organizations have undermined the self-confidence of many Americans 44 ● America’s Culture of Professionalism to look after problems within their reach or to collaborate with professionals, who often seem beyond their reach.

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