I wonder why there is a need for parliaments. Many countries have something like a parliament formed of elected politicians. The problem behind that is that in order to get (re-)elected, politicians become dependent on the public consent. However, public opinion is not (always?) reasonable.

What are the reasons there are so few countries where decisions/laws are made by a temporary commitee of experts with limited time on the committee and only on demand? With experts I mean people with knowledge in the field the potential law has to set in.

A current example would be the CO2 emission rate. A potential commitee member could e.g. work in the field of tropospheric research and is not allowed to work for e.g. oil/coalor any related company which conflicts interest.

Another negative example is e.g. Germany. Here, some politicians work or worked in important positions for VW. These people make/influence laws/decisions which conflict with e.g. CO2 emission goals and they are not experts in the field. Such people could be therefore excluded from a potential comitee.

  • 3
    Power corrupts, and which experts would watch the experts?
    – user11249
    Nov 27, 2017 at 21:33
  • The gremium would be (1 time) temporary and random (but degree dependent). The law/decision would be also time limited e.g. 4 to 15 years.
    – user16984
    Nov 27, 2017 at 21:54
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    To paraphrase Comrade Stalin, it does not matter what the experts think. It matters who gets to pick the experts.
    – user4012
    Nov 28, 2017 at 3:50
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    @Carpetsmoker This is the same for our current politicians. Who is going to watch Trump? Additionally, the experts have limited power (e.g. just onelaw without conflict in interest)
    – user16984
    Nov 28, 2017 at 9:15
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    @drgat, who isn't watching Trump. In all my years of watching presidential politics, no President has ever been scrutinized more than Trump. Count the number of investigations and committees investigating. The investigations started before he was even elected and the promise from the opposition is that they will continue until he is removed. Nov 28, 2017 at 20:10

5 Answers 5


Expert comissions are actually a tool frequently used by parliamentary democracies to advise on policy. However, these experts are usually nominated by politicians and their conclusions merely have an advisory function.

The reason why expert comissions don't have any legislative power is because experts can come to completely different conclusions. For example, let's assume you could resurrect any political scientist from world history to lead the policies of your country. Who would you make your minister of economy: Karl Marx or Adam Smith? Who would be your minister of interior: Voltaire or Machiavelli? You can not deny that these people were very well-informed experts on their fields. But yet they came to vastly different conclusion about what's the best course of action for a society to take.

That's why elected politicians are required to decide which experts to listen to.

  • 1
    I do not consider Karl Marx/Adam Smith an expert in this context, but rather philosophers. With experts I mean people with substantial knowledge in the field e.g. energy/genetics.
    – user16984
    Nov 28, 2017 at 9:03
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    @dgrat Why do you think that natural sciences are so important for making political decisions? The vast majority of decisions in politics require knowledge of "soft sciences" like economy or sociology. A biologist or physicist won't be of much help with reforming a tax code.
    – Philipp
    Nov 28, 2017 at 10:13
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    +1. A specific example would be the UK Drug Policy Commission. Now imagine the UKDPC was given the power to overrule elected politicians and make radical changes to drug policy. How are these changes funded? Who manages the consequences for policing, prisons and health services? Who persuades the public all of this is a good idea? These issues are far outside the skill set of the experts on the UKDPC. Nov 28, 2017 at 10:39
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    @inappropriateCode: The concept of mathematical proof doesn't apply to a government budget. Fundamentally, a budget is a statement of priorities about resource allocation: We will spend $X on defence, $Y on social benefits, and collect $Z in taxes. Making those decisions is a political act. Understanding their effect is a job for social scientists. Dec 4, 2017 at 9:55
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    @inappropriateCode The problem with the mathematical approach to economy is that it doesn't account for the human factor. The Homo Economicus is an idealized model with limited application to the real world because humans are irrational beings, and every human is irrational in their own personal ways. You can not easily predict how policy changes will affect the decision making processes of millions of individuals.
    – Philipp
    Dec 4, 2017 at 10:13
  1. There are more decisions than that per Congress in the United States, which averages passing 758 bills every two years. That's more than one a day, including weekends. The average is probably more like two per workday. Plus about forty judges a year.

  2. Most parliaments do more than just pass legislation. They also provide the top executives (ministers) of the government departments. Not in the US, but in most countries that call their legislatures parliaments.

Overall, these are full time jobs. They are more likely to complain about not enough time than too much.

The final problem is that people don't like having their decisions made by "experts". One of the challenges in the US is that the expert proscription and the everyday proscription have diverged so greatly. When an expert government is no longer seen as contributing to the general welfare, it gets replaced. Democracies provide a peaceful method to do that. But there are violent variants called things like revolution. I.e. if a country did try this government, it would be unlikely to last.


‘Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’

-Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

These Gremiums are even more unlikely to represent the population than current electoral systems. What stops these committee members from being bribed, racist, biased, prejudiced, bad decision makers, beholden to a particular ideology, beholden to a particular cause than anyone else. At a very fundamental level their is no guarantee that these "experts" would make any better decisions than current politicians because after all "experts" often tend to be wrong.

  • Like decisions in politics. But even worse in the current systems politicians just move in case of failure responsibility away (e.g. Greek politicians blame e.g. Germany). In an altered system as I suggested every decision has a life time and can be corrected in case of failure. Because there is no politician involved, responsibility/failure would be clear too.
    – user16984
    Nov 28, 2017 at 15:10
  • This is based on flawed logic. Our civilisation requires experts by appointment of merit, and often these groups manage their own competency fairly well. Consider medicine, the military, universities, etc. In their own fields, these experts generally are magnitudes of competence better than the average layperson. So it's plainly false to say they're as likely to be wrong as anyone else. Hard science experts are far more likely to demonstrate competence, professionalism, and far less likely to be wrong. In comparison a politician's job requires them to pander to the electorate's ignorance.
    – user8398
    Nov 30, 2017 at 15:44

The term you're looking for is Technocracy. It was somewhat present in US politics during the interwar period and it is present in modern-day China. It doesn't work in a democracy for two reasons:

  1. Someone has to appoint the experts, and while this may be easy and impartial for hard the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, etc.) most political issues are going to arise from soft sciences (economics, jurisprudence, etc.) which can be biased to a degree. SCOTUS is a good example of a federal body of experts on a field that, while they are meant to be apolitical, let politics bleed into their work.
  2. People just simply don't want to hear uncomfortable truths. In everything from flat-earthers to climate change deniers there's a wide range of people who are unwilling or unable to think critically. Voting for politicians that echo their beliefs placates them, if you had an essentially unelected body making binding decisions, even if they were correct, there'd be riots in the streets.
  • 1
    Flat Earthers and Climate change deniers, hilarious. You forgot Climate Change Religionist who believe in climate change with no scientific proof, only a concensus of experts. The real reason a technocracy will not work. Experts is a subjective term Nov 28, 2017 at 20:04
  • You also forgot GMO deniers, nuke deniers etc... but I guess they don't paint unflattering picture of the right demographics.
    – user4012
    Nov 28, 2017 at 21:21
  • Luckily, data supporting that consensus of experts on climate change is readily and easily available :^)
    – Gramatik
    Nov 28, 2017 at 22:45
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    GMO is a good point. As practiced in Europe, it is nothing more than protectionism for local agriculture, a clever way to avoid retaliatory tariffs. You can always find 'experts' to say whatever you want said. So a technocracy ultimately ends up being the government telling the people what to think, instead of asking them what they think.
    – tj1000
    Nov 29, 2017 at 17:30

Because we know how that works, from history.

  • A committee of experts (Lysenko and co) advised Stalin that genetics is a bourgeois fallacy and all geneticists should get arrested/shot. Which wasn't such a big deal in the 1940s; but imagine if that happened to a country in 2020s, when many important advances are genetics based.

  • A committee of experts (three main ones in fact) decided that credit default swaps are pretty good quality credit instruments. That wasn't quite accurate.

  • A committee of experts decided that ride sharing services were a bad idea. I mean, it's not their fault that all the experts were members of taxi/limo industry which is directly threatened by ride sharing services, so they view "good/bad" in context of that.

  • A committee of experts decided that gentlemen doctors shouldn't have to wash their hands. Cue inordinate amount of needlessly dead mothers.

This isn't just examples of experts being wrong per se, as another answer noted. They is examples of bad-to-disastrous policy decisions that followed these experts.

  • Well, with experts I ment a commitee from that field. If a law has to be made in genetics, the commítee would consist of biochemists. Because they are experts. The same for infrastructure..
    – user16984
    Nov 28, 2017 at 9:01
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    To err is human. Would you like to find out how it works when people having no clue about area in question make laws about it? Hint: the list would be much much longer.
    – Alice
    Nov 28, 2017 at 9:39
  • @Alice - so far, it worked reasonably OK for most of US history. Partly, because people having no clue tend to ask (and sometimes listen to) people with a clue.
    – user4012
    Nov 28, 2017 at 21:25
  • These are poor examples and fail to prove the argument. Lysenkoism was always pseudo-science driven by political ideology. He was not an expert. Nor are economists and their ilk comparable to STEM specialists. The entire modern civilisation requires experts appointed by merit to specialisations. There is absolutely no equivalence, and it is dangerous and foolish to attempt to make an equivalence between hard science experts and layperson opinion. Much less politicians whose careers require them to lie and pander to the electorate's prejudice and ignorance.
    – user8398
    Nov 30, 2017 at 15:51
  • @inappropriateCode - he was an expert. He was wrong (and probably dumb) but he was an official expert. All the research published supported him.
    – user4012
    Nov 30, 2017 at 18:37

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