Closing Keynote: Drop Your Tools – Does Expertise have a Dark Side?

Sat September 05, 05:10 PM–06:05 PM • Back to program
Start time 17:10
End time 18:05
Countdown link Open timer

o Structural Engineering Failures o Bushfires o Loss of life and injury in bushfires

All professionals possess some measure of expertise, and not only is this expertise useful, it is usually also necessary to do the job. In general, this expertise is viewed as a good thing.

But what if there is an issue with expertise? Is expertise always a good thing?

This presentation will discuss how expertise has limitations when it is applied outside its normal area of application, and how these limitations will typically not be evident to the individual applying the expertise. Further, even in situations where evidence suggests the application of the expertise is inappropriate, it is likely that an individual will continue to apply their expertise regardless of its inappropriateness.

To explore these issues the presentation will examine the behaviour of a group of firefighters fighting a wildfire in Mann Gulch in the US in 1949, it will look at psychological studies that examine the concept of Priming, and it will discuss how the game of baseball can assist in unravelling why expertise can sometimes let us down.

Content Warning: This presentation will discuss bushfires and fatalities.

Sean Brady

I am a forensic engineer and I work with business, government and the legal sector to investigate and resolve complex issues that typically require a systems approach.

I have acted as an expert witness in numerous proceedings involving a wide range of constructed facilities. I am a director of the Society of Construction Law Australia and a member of the Singapore International Mediation Centre's Panel of Experts.

In 2020 I completed the Brady Review, an investigation into the causes of fatalities in the mining industry in Queensland, Australia. This review analysed 20 years of incident and fatality information, was data driven, and culminated in 11 recommendations for both industry and the regulator on how to lower the fatality and incident rate.