Experts Never Agree – The Essential Vice

Plaintiffs - Agree to Disagree - DefendantThe Problem:

Two of a trade never agree.  There is one vice of which no expert in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when it is seen in someone else; and of which hardly any person can ever imagine that they are guilty themselves.  I do not think that I have ever heard an expert accuse himself of this vice.  

I have very seldom met an expert who showed the slightest mercy to it in others.  There is no fault which makes an expert more unpopular or of which we are more unconscious of in ourselves.  The more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.  The vice is Pride or Self-Conceit, the opposite virtue of Humility.

My Assessment:

Experts never agree.  Pride is the complete degenerative state of mind.  Consider how much you dislike it when other people refuse to take any notice of you, patronize you, or show off in front of you.

An expert’s pride is competitive by its very nature.   Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next expert.  It is the comparison that makes the expert proud, the pleasure of being above others.  Once the element of competition has gone, Pride has gone. 

Pride is essentially competitive in a way other vices are not.  Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go around, but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power.

The Consequences:

In disputes about weld failures, there always subjective elements and opposing opinions.  There are seldom any large, extended studies that convincingly establish the observed failure at the identical load, number of cycles, time or temperature.  There are never the same alloy percentages or thermal properties in steel.  Consider looking at a solid black line on white paper with a microscope. As magnification increases the black line appears as an arrangement of dots.  Experts and corporations don’t reveal their ignorance or guilt. There are always conditions for a weld failure that do not coincide with intuitive data.  Valid studies about weld failures are often unpublished to avoid exposure of liability. Independent experts must avoid hold harmless agreements and indemnification clauses in contracts.

The Lesson Learned:

“I don’t know“ is a humble response.  Descriptions of weld failures are always a “more likely than not opinion” by an expert.  Experts and clients don’t reveal their ignorance or guilt. Expert opinions about a weld failure are the result of hard work, study and expert’s background, knowledge, education and experience.  Experts must practice the utmost in humility, truthfulness and professional ethics.

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Welding Failures I Have Known, Interesting cautionary tales from Metals & Welding  expert, Dr Jesse A Grantham, PE