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Can you trust the expert

The role of experts and public attitudes to them were the theme for a topical and thought-provoking evening of debate at the Audit Quality Forum.

In the era of social media and easy access to information, experts are coming under increasing challenge and scrutiny. This is undermining their authority and credibility. These were the opening comments of Charles Bowman, chairman of the Audit Quality Forum (AQF), at its latest debate. This trend has important implications for business as how they are judged by the public is based in part on how they use independent experts to support their work.

The focus of this debate reflects the AQF theme of the past two years, which has explored what business needs to get right in order to increase public confidence and trust, and how auditors can contribute to this objective.

As is customary, this AQF debate was preceded by a provocation. Timandra Harkness, resident reporter on The Human Zoo, a Radio 4 social psychology series, looked at why we trust some experts more than others and highlighted that people still assign authority to an expert’s professional qualifications when what should really matter is the quality of their arguments.

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