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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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On thinking for yourself

Never underestimate the experts' ability to get things wrong

Seth Roberts has read three new books about how emperors are often more naked than people tell them they are. I've read two of those books and had much the same reaction. The trust-the-experts inertia of the financial markets described by Michael Lewis in The Big Short is much like that in the climate debate described by Andrew Montford in The Hockey Stick Illusion. Roberts's third book is about Bernie Madoff.

I call these books The Emperor's New Clothes Trilogy. Their broad lesson:Sometimes the "best people" aren't right. Sometimes there's a point of view from which they're glaringly wrong. The Hockey Stick Illusion is about how Stephen McIntyre found this point of view. In No One Would Listen Markopolos found this point of view. In The Big Short several people found this point of view.

In Monty Python's immortal words:

Brian: ``you've all got to work it out for yourselves''

Crowd: ``yes, we've all got to work it out for ourselves.''