Lifton on the online commentator culture
In American Common Law courts it is the practice to define “experts” on technical matters as “persons who know more than the ordinary person about the subject matter at hand.” This is the type of tradition known as precedent.
While attending evening law school in Los Angeles and then Detroit in the late 1960s to very early 1970s I started a business that I called Forensic Science and Engineering Associates, Inc., in Detroit. Michigan law requires that if the term “engineering” is in a business name then that business must have a Registered Professional Engineer ( a P.E.) as a principal. So I partnered with a law school classmate who was then the Chief Engineer of the Wayne County Pollution Control District. He as a chemical engineer. My third original partner was a mechanical engineer who later himself went to law school.
The purpose of my telling you this story is to point out that over the next few years I myself was asked to review and to testify in nearly 100 civil suits involving a fire, a chemical spill, or a chemical/metallurgical issue. I also was the administrator and rainmaker for my little firm.
I learned that the most difficult hurdle for an expert is to become qualified as such before the court. Every time I was called to testify the opposing counsel would belittle my qualifications and ridicule my experience as a matter of course. At first I was so annoyed that I would sometimes get angry. This was exactly what the opposing counsel wanted. After a show of anger the opposing counsel could be sure that he could attack my attitude rather than my testimony. The value of testimony in any law suit is based first and foremost on the credibility of the witness and then and only then on his/her recitation of the facts, or, in the case of an expert only, the recitation of an opinion.
I was never once disqualified as an expert, because I chose to testify only on subjects I knew well from education and experience. I would study the facts of each accident or product failure and try to pre-determine the line of questioning that I would take if I were examining or cross-examining me on the subject at hand.
I was subjected to scathing attacks on my credibility and expertise by expert litigators. But I cannot remember a single time where blistering attacks on the witness stand weren’t followed when the case ended or was settled by an “atta boy” from opposing counsel. I frequently acquired new clients who had met me working for their opponent in court. “Nothing personal” was always whispered to me in the court room.
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Now I can get to my point. I am a commentator upon and analyst of the natural resources space. I review junior mining ventures for InvestorIntel and the InvestorIntelReport. I am an expert in the extraction, separation, purification, fabrication and the end-uses of technology metals and materials.
Some of InvestorIntel’s readers have significant experience in the same areas that I do; some have more experience in one or more aspects of junior mining than I do; but none of the readers has my breadth of experience in technology metals and materials as used in the real world.
I appreciate comments, and when hard data is proffered in those comments I examine it carefully. I am a firm believer in the scientific method, which means that I believe a proposition until evidence of an appropriate kind is introduced to refute it. If you want to refute an argument of mine or disagree with a conclusion of mine then you need to present evidence of an appropriate kind.
Name calling and intimation that my opinions are affected by my client’s wishes rather than the facts are not worth challenging. I do not know all of the facts about anything, but when I write about a company, a process, or a material I hold that I know more than the reader does, or he wouldn’t be and shouldn’t be reading my commentary.
I do not “hang” on the computer waiting to count comment totals; I work for a living in the natural resource production and use industries. I choose my clients because I think they have the highest probability of going into production and making a profit. If your sole interest is a quick profit I suggest bank robbery. The risk of being caught may be less than the risk of losing your money in many of the junior technology mining ventures that I review for institutional investors.
I cannot respond to every comment and when they involve any form of ad hominem or other imputation of dishonesty I quite frankly just ignore then entirely.
Thank you for reading my work. I do very much appreciate that and I really appreciate your constructive commentary.
Jack Lifton is the Sr. Editor for InvestorIntel Corp. and is the CEO for Jack Lifton, LLC. He is also a consultant, author, and lecturer ... <Read more about Jack Lifton>