During the EU referendum, Michael Gove may have produced the most well-remembered quote, when he refused to name any economists who backed Britain leaving the European Union.
People in this country have had enough of experts.
The country proceeded to vote 'Leave', the pound crashed and at present the public has very little concept of what our future relationship with the EU and the single market will be.
Dominic Cummings, the director of the 'Vote Leave' campaign, has written a blog post in which he waxes lyrical about a machine learning and data system used by the campaign to target likely voters.
In the post, he writes:
One of our central ideas was that the campaign had to do things in the field of data that have never been done before.
We were the first campaign in the UK to put almost all our money into digital communication then have it partly controlled by people whose normal work was subjects like quantum information (combined with political input from Paul Stephenson and Henry de Zoete, and digital specialists AIQ). We could only do this properly if we had proper canvassing software. We built it partly in-house and partly using an external engineer who we sat in our office for months.
In essence, the Vote Leave director is saying that he brought in outside experts, whom he credits a large part of the victory of the anti-expert campaign with.
Just let that simmer - the people who sold the British public a campaign that defied expert opinion, are now saying a big part of it was bringing in outside help in the form of "experts in physics and machine learning do proper data science in the way only they can".
Good to know the campaign was all 'practice what you preach'.
Also if you remember the £50 million prize for the Euro 2016 predictor, he talks a bit about that:
VICS was not only useful to the ground campaign but also helped improve the models used for other things. (This was the point of our £50 million prize for predicting the results of the European football championships, which gathered data from people who usually ignore politics – I’m still frustrated we couldn’t persuade someone to insure a £350 million prize which is what I wanted to do.)
Guess it's not just the cash on the side of the bus that's still missing.