How do we pick, or think we should pick, our experts? One clue comes from “How to pick an X” web guides. For 18 types of experts X, I searched for that phrase, and read the top 8 Google hits, noting all of the types of info clues mentioned in each guide.
You might get a laugh out of: Blue Chip Financial Forecasts. https://lrus.wolterskluwer....
The problem with outcome data is you need to figure out whether or not the experts are taking equally hard cases and get that data in the first place. You don't want to avoid the best experts because they are the ones called in for the hardest cases.
I agree that in those instances where case outcomes really are comparable people still tend to underrate them, e.g., success rate with respect to some really common type of surgery. But part of the problem is that both the actual outcome data and the information about whether or not there is substantial variation in case hardness may be difficult to come by.
In fact, I'd even go so far as to suggest guides about how to choose the best X are far more likely to exist exactly when clear and easy to find data on outcomes aren't easy to find.
As the Cv pandemic has shown, many alleged experts are not actually experts, or they prioritize various forms of politics. It is often hard to get performance information.
This is a really important problem.
> Presumably, everyone has the same outcome goals in mind when seeking a doctor or dentist.
I know several people who explicitly favour doctors for example who they feel comfortable with over those who provide better treatment. "The Elephant in the Brain" provides a lot of material on what you might consider extraneous motivations here.
It strikes me that “quack” is a tenuous category within a signaling framework. Sure, they may not offer any measurable effect with their work, but they still afford the customer the signaling value they seek. If college is 90% signaling and astrology is 100% signaling, they’re really not as different as most ‘rational’ people might assume. I’m sure this has occurred to others, but it only just occurred to me!
For most of these expert categories, finding outcome information is difficult or impossible. And in many cases, outcomes are hard to measure and vary widely by customer. Presumably, everyone has the same outcome goals in mind when seeking a doctor or dentist. However, even directionally, desired outcomes when seeking an astrologer, pastor, or interior decorate vary widely.
On a different note, the high rank of credential/license is worthy of more investigation, particularly given the trending discussion around both higher education and occupational licensing.