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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Experts Versus Hive Mind

As my weekly blogging over at All About Beer becomes a routinized thing, I'll alert you to posts more rarely.  However, you might be interested in today's post, which addresses the issue of expert opinion versus the wisdom of hive mind.  In terms of beer evaluation and review, I argue that we don't want to throw the former out entirely.
It is characteristic of this moment in American history that we hold experts in contempt and valorize the global hive mind. Critics are vanishing faster than tropical reefs, and we now rely on sites like Yelp and Good Reads and Amazon to tell us what to buy or read or patronize. There are many reasons why these sites have made us better consumers and, in some cases, better-educated. But the hive mind has a tendency to elevate mass opinion and codify conventional wisdom (even when that “wisdom” is grossly errant). The phenomenon is so pernicious it can even infect non-crowd-sourced information. If you trusted BeerAdvocate with the authority to decide on Burton Bridge’s Olde Expensive, you’d have been sent down a blind alley.
In making the argument, I pivot off the words of local beer luminary Bill Schneller, so go have a look and see what you think. 


  1. All About Beer doesn't seem to have an RSS feed available. I'd appreciate it if you continued to link to your articles from here otherwise I'm not likely to see them.

  2. Beer, like wine, women and song, is a matter of personal taste. If you find a critic whose taste matches yours, then you are very lucky.

    I have a friend who is many years younger than I am, but who I have known almost half his life. We have talked about and drunk beer together many times. We also know each other quite well. He lives in another country, one I visit often, and he has for many years, given me recommendations that have been spot on. Why? Because he recommends according to my tastes, not his.

    How often does the "hive mind" do that?