A Neologism for a 20th-Century Malady

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Friedrich Hayek

True: Knowledge, by its nature, is decentralized. Knowledge informs, directs, and fuels action. Therefore, action ought to be decentralized.

False: Centralized government action presupposes that knowledge, by its nature, is centered in a few experts. Knowledge informs, directs, and fuels action. Therefore, action ought to be centralized in the government.

The false approach is now known as “Faucism,” named after Anthony Fauci, whose positions and statements during the pandemic are unravelling faster a stripper’s clothes in front of a wad of Benjamins. His lies and incompetence were obvious to many during the pandemic, but now they’re becoming obvious to everyone else. Hopefully, it will forever destroy Faucism.

The above is just a summary of this excellent essay by Barry Brownstein: Liberating Yourself from Faucism. Excerpt:

Most Faucists have never read Hayek’s “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” They do not know why the idea of allowing one man to determine policy is absurd: 

“The knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess.”

“Our ignorance is sobering and boundless,” observed philosopher Karl Popper. Faucists don’t believe that about their beloved leader. Who else should decide, they proclaim, but our most learned expert? 

Popper continued with what could be a credo for individuals willing to humbly explore their beliefs and admit the limits of individual knowledge: “With each step forward, with each problem which we solve, we not only discover new and unsolved problems, but we also discover that where we believed that we were standing on firm and safe ground, all things are, in truth, insecure and in a state of flux.” 

If the world is full of challenging problems and individuals with boundless ignorance, it is not surprising that Popper believed, “There are no ultimate sources of knowledge.” We can only “hope to detect and eliminate error” by allowing criticism of the theories of others and our own. 

To put it more succinctly, physicist Richard Feynman wrote, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”

Of course, in today’s world Faucists are busy censoring views that dissent from their beloved leader and his apostles

University of Pennsylvania professor Philip Tetlock has been a skeptic of the ability of expert forecasters, who are “often mistaken but never in doubt.” Despite the poor track record of forecasters, they never lack followers. Tetlock writes, “We need to believe we live in a predictable, controllable world, so we turn to authoritative-sounding people who promise to satisfy that need.” 

Psychologist Paul Slovic is a leading authority on risk. He explains, “[T]here is no such thing as ‘real risk’ or ‘objective risk.’” Like the rest of us, experts suffer cognitive biases. Thus, Slovic concludes that the public’s view of risk should not be trumped by experts with greater political power.