We tend to trust the experts. The impulse is right because the experts have more knowledge and expertise in the subject than we do. They know the nuances. But when the experts claim to be above critique by non-experts, that’s a problem. When they say (in so many words) “you can’t evaluate my claims because I am the smart one and you are the dummy,” they are presenting an empty appeal to authority. The experts often differ among themselves, so we have reason to question the experts. After all, they can’t all be right. The only way to determine who is right is to question the experts.

But we’re not experts, so who are we to question them? We can’t all be experts in a given area, but all of us have some common sense and a built-in bologna detector. We can detect mistakes in reasoning and logical fallacies. We know when something just doesn’t sound right. You don’t need to be an expert to spot those things and call the experts to task. If they are right, then they can correct us using evidence and sound reasoning.

J. P. Moreland offers two circumstances under which you should ignore the majority of experts: (1) Their conclusions are based on non-rational factors rather than rational factors; (2) Their conclusions are best explained by being socialized into the view rather than the evidence. I’m glad we have experts. We need them, but they are not above critique.