June 21, 2010
This is a quick one that I recently wrapped up for the Wall Street Journal’s book review in their Weekend section. The article jumps on two new books that explore the value of decision making principally guided by the expert advice of others. A purely hypothetical example of this would be the chief of a large petroleum company consulting scientists and engineers to help determine how to best plug up a troublesome leak on an oil rig out in coastal waters. How much or how little should the direction and suggestion of these experts be weighed when determining a solution to this completely imaginary, entirely speculative problem? Enter two warring tomes: The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley and Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—and How to Know When Not to Trust Them by David H. Freedman.
As the titles may suggest, these two books approach a similar problem from opposite perspectives, so art director Marne Mayer and I needed to grab on to an image that played off of visual polarities while still avoiding the whole black vs. white / day vs. night / up vs.down / half empty vs. half full tropes which have been previously traversed for this sort of thing in the past. Hence, our final above and below.
In drawing a connection to my own role as the illustrator in this instance and one of the principal pictorial “experts” in that situation (and I’m taking a lot of excessive liberties by even using that word in quotations for myself), I was uncommonly convinced to near certainty that one of the two the below sketches would be a shoe-ins for the final when submitting my comps.
Expert am me.