Newton’s Laws of Experts

Interesting article over the past couple of days by William York in Online Opinion.

He has reframed Newton’s Laws of Motion into new Laws of Experts.  The original laws from Sir Isaac Newton are:

  • First Law (Law of Intertia): every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force;
  • Second Law (Law of Acceleration): the rate of change of momentum is directly proportional to the applied force; and
  • Third Law (Law of Reciprocal Actions): for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

York’s reframed Laws of Experts are:

  • First Law: every expert persists in his state of rest or opinion unless acted upon by an external grant;
  • Second Law: the rate of change of opinion is directly proportional to the applied grant; and
  • Third Law: for every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.

I thought these reframed laws were very good – particularly how grant guidelines dictate the opinions of particular experts and create an environment where dissent is actively discouraged (as it does not meet the guidelines) and hence the need for the third law.  But perhaps some slight changes to the laws would make it more interesting if we add in some comment on how new knowledge can change expert opinion:

  • First Law: every expert will steadfastly maintain his current opinions unless acted upon by an external grant or irrefutable new knowledge;
  • Second Law: the rate of change of expert opinion is directly proportional to the amount of external grants and sharing of irrefutable new knowledge; and
  • Third Law: for every expert opinion, there is an equal and opposite expert opinion.
  • Of course, all this talk about Newtonian physics depends on one’s frame of reference – and that perhaps these laws are only valid in an inertial frame of reference.  If we are aware of how the wider context is changing, then the laws may not stand up to scrutiny.  I think that Einstein had something to say about that with his theory of relativity!

    Happy New Year everyone and all the best for 2008. 

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    2 Responses to Newton’s Laws of Experts

    1. Henry Pym says:

      You even have clingons reading the blog now !

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