I have stopped posting on the current coronavirus pandemic because, quite frankly, I am tired of reading opinions (and more opinions) on the subject.  But when you are a 75 year old man with a very vocal Inner Curmudgeon, you have to let him out, so to speak, or he can erupt among family and friends.  I don’t have enough of either to risk that so today’s post is his … on a subject other than (but certainly applicable to) COVID-19.  He has promised to avoid the subject except for the cartoon at the top of the page.   The subject is Experts.

Per Wikipedia … An expert is someone who has a broad and deep competence in terms of knowledge, skill and experience through practice and education in a particular field.   Note.  Knowledge, skill and experience through practice and education.  IN A PARTICULAR FIELD.  I am an expert.  When I am offered a job as an expert, I am interviewed so the client can be sure that my expertise is exactly what they need.  My specialization is a particular corner of electrical engineering.  Call it signal processing and statistical analysis.  I don’t get jobs involving electric motors, power generation or computer design because that is outside my area of expertise.  I certainly don’t get jobs in civil engineering, botany or medicine.  My scientific education may allow me to more easily understand articles in other fields but that doesn’t make me qualified to review the accuracy of the article.  Or even determine if the author is actually an expert.  Only other experts can do that, which is why any paper must be peer reviewed to carry any weight in the scientific community.

It seems to me that the age of online news and social media have ushered in an assortment of misplaced experts, quasi-experts and pseudo-experts.  Misplaced experts are real experts in something that are acting as if they are experts in areas outside their expertise.  It can be anything from a bone doctor commenting as if he is an expert in infectious diseases to a reporter (presumably an expert in journalism) reporting what someone he thinks is an expert has to say.   Neither are really qualified but the reporter can be so far off based as to be dangerous.  Then we have quasi-experts.  These are people who have worked around and about a certain field … or had relevant personal experience … that makes them think their opinion (which they present with an air of certainty) is expertise.  They mean well but often mislead others.  At the bottom of this Dante’s Hell of the under-informed are those who think they are experts by way of intuition or knowledge of fictional conspiracy theories or political ideologies.   They publish or post or tweet nonsense that would make an expert blush … or explode in frustration.  Unfortunately, our President falls into this category, producing scores of un-experts who blindly believe what he says and legitimizing that mode of so-called thinking.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone who wasn’t an expert on a subject kept their mouth shut (or their keyboard quiet)?   Or at least they attached the word opinion to what they have to say in LARGE LETTERS?  Wouldn’t it be refreshing if reporters actually determined if their sources had real expertise then reported their work without dramatic embellishments?   Wouldn’t it be great if when someone with no knowledge of a particular subject blew smoke up our asses as if they were experts, nobody listened or reported it in the news.  Wouldn’t it be grand if our citizens actually thought about what was being said and depended less on notions like fake news and conspiracy theories?  Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians just shut up on things they don’t understand? Yeah, it would.

Did I ever tell you my Inner Curmudgeon is a dreamer?


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One Comment on “Experts”

  1. barrythewiz Says:

    I’m no expert but IN MY OPINION you hit the nail right on the head. It’s part of the reason why I have virtually stopped watching cable news.

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