We all need the services of an expert from time to time! In the DS System, it’s possible for recipient communities to take advantage of expert advice or services without handing over the decision-making process to outsiders.

Research shows that when people listen to the expert, the part of their brains that is capable of independent thought goes to sleep. See the study (expert financial advice.pdf) attached to this page.

The authors point out that qualifications alone are not enough. “While information about the expert’s professional background and his decision strategy were provided prior to the experiment in order to create a basic level of trust towards the expert, the quality of such information is not comparable to actual interactions with the expert.”

 “Experts” are trotted out every night on news programs, to justify the most heinous of activities, or just to instill fear in the population. Politicians and other rulers practice being charismatic because it saves them having to be truthful. The voluntary and NGO sector is full of “conference dragons”, and so on.

An article on does some interesting speculation about this (archived as pdf: power_of_charisma) but is limited by only looking at religious matters. The full study has gone from but is archived on

The study found that a religious person, anticipating a person who has a reputation as a charismatic literally shuts down his highest brain functions in the charismatic’s presence. That doesn’t happen in the brains of non-believers.

See also: The science of charismatic voices on for some studies using politicians’ speeches. (archived as pdf: phys-org-the_science_of_charismatic_voices )

A Better Role For Experts

Under the DS System, experts will be employed directly by the people themselves, only when they need them, and only for a specific service or piece of advice which the people have already determined that they need. They will be paid when (and if) their service has proven satisfactory to the people. This helps to lessen the charisma factor, placing the expert on an equal footing with the local people, having been chosen by them based on merit.

In the old system, this was not the case. Experts were in charge of projects and of the reporting of the project back to the sponsoring organization. Often they would be employees of the organization, and their main function was to ensure that the pre-planned project was implemented. The best the local people could expect was some minor revisions to a uniform program that the organization implements everywhere it operates.

Noreena Hertz: How to use experts — and when not to