May 26, 2021
22. What role do experts play in influencing our consumption or acquisition of knowledge?
Object 1: Brandy Melville
Brandy Melville is a European clothing and fashion accessories brand targeting its products to young women which is one of the fastest-growing brands among teenage girls in Europe and America. It is controversial since products have only one size: x small to small due to the reason of minimisation of used fabric and clothing patterns. Also, the brand’s most ideal image is shown through their choice of models; on their website or Instagram account, all models are skinny and white.
This brand is particularly interesting for this exhibition because the expert (Brandy Melville) can make an impression that being skinny is ideal for women. As Brandy Melville is such a trendy brand, in order to fit in small-sized clothes, girls who are a size large have to and try to squeeze into a size small. This means that the brand indirectly supports the idea of fat-shaming rather than body positivity. Whilst a lot of teenage girls are unhappy about their bodies, the brand’s sizing concept will immortalise negative body images among teens.
Experts, in this case, Brandy Melville, create new knowledge for people to believe and have a huge influence on people’s consumption of knowledge.
The brand also enriches this exhibition because the fact that they only hire models who are white make assumptions that the brand supports the idea of whiteness and denies the concept of ethnic and racial diversity which eventually force or encourage people to believe that being white and denying diversity is acceptable. Despite the world’s demand for diversity in fashion as people try to reject the idea of whiteness as a global beauty standard, an influential brand such as Brandy Melville has enormous impacts on people to believe being white is ideal which is the concept that the brand supports. The expert’s actions increase the awareness of specific beliefs and offer ideals which in this case, whiteness, for people to believe.
Object 2: Article about the conspiracy
This article was published on 13 April 2020 discussing the microchip conspiracy stated by Roger Stone (American political consultant). Fruen (2020) stated Stone’s comment, ‘Here is what I do know for certain. He and other globalists are definitely using it for mandatory vaccinations and microchipping people so we know if they’ve been tested. ‘ This was controversial because the expert has a huge power to control and influence people since he has experience working on campaigns of Republican politicians.
This article is particularly interesting for this exhibition because according to the research done by YouGov, 44% of Republicans believe that Bill Gates will use coronavirus vaccines to inject them with microchips and only 26% of people answered that it is a lie (Brown and Weise 2020). People tend to believe anything stated or proven by experts since they are considered to be reliable and trustworthy from their fame or popularity. In fact, after the publication of his statement, a lot of people believed him and rejected getting vaccines.
This article and conspiracy itself also enrich this exhibition because Bill Gates officially denied the theory. The reaction by him against this theory also made people believe that the conspiracy declared by Stone is not reliable but Gates is due to the reputation they have. Some people believed the conspiracy that seemed bizarre and ridiculous to others because they do not trust vaccines. Those theories are then embraced and accepted by them to justify that feeling. However most people believed Bill Gates who is the expert because he is prominent; he founded Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest computer software company, donated $1.6 billion for immunization in lower-income countries and changed the lifestyles of people while there is a fact that Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison (Brown and Weise 2020). Hence evaluation, reputation and perception of experts by the public change the way people think and who to believe.
Object 3: Document about energy security in India
This document was published in 2018 by Nathaniel Babajide who is a Lecturer at the Center for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP), University of Dundee, explaining energy security and the impacts on the environment and economy. As he has a lot of experiences and knowledge, he is considered a reliable expert. In the document, statistics and numerical evidence are favourably used by the expert to support the theory and ideas.
This document is particularly interesting for the exhibition because he uses different types of statistics and graphs based on his research on how energy is used, managed and conserved in India which is strong evidence because people perceive that numbers are reliable. According to Babajide (2018 2), “240 million people are still without electricity access”. By saying this, people perceive that there are many people in poverty that we have to help. Quantitative evidence which is more preferred than qualitative evidence is proven and used by experts which allow them to more effectively explain their claims compared to nonexperts’ explanations that may use unevidenced information. They provide actual numbers in support of ideas and conclusions which are difficult to object to, therefore they can change existing knowledge people already have. Thus, experts are more credible and persuasive than others in terms of people’s knowledge and information.
This document also enriches this exhibition because there are limitations that experts can prove with statistics. Even though numbers are not fabricated, they may lead to errors due to carelessness and bias that can arise with statistical interpretation processes. For instance, Babajide (2018, 1) stated that “6% of the world’s primary energy” is used by India, however, it may be misguided since it is impossible to measure accurately how much all of the countries consume energy and how much energy they are in the world. Statistical reliability is crucial but some experts might measure and experient falsely, hence it may not be reliable as much.