Monday, February 04, 2013

what makes an expert?

in science, you spend years studying something, reading papers on a subject, perhaps devising and running experiments, interpreting results, leaving your methods, results and interpretation open to others to critique. After years of this, you find that you have learned a rather large amount of information and by virtue of not many other people having spent time in this area, you are an expert. quite possibly only because you now know more than most (which probably defines expert?).

however, having read 'bad science' it seems that anyone can call themselves an expert. with the advancement of anonymity on the internet and the lack of honesty in the media, it seems that people can call themselves experts (or get called experts) when they lack any sort of knowledge, let alone more than most. yet they get listened to. listening to a rock star's opinion on politics is a subset of this effect. famous for one thing so you listen to their opinion on another?! equally wrong would be as would be listening to a doctor's opinion on football tactics because they are doctor. yet people happily listen to actors opinion on medical issues. and then newspapers print it because they need to sell, and what better than to write about calabrities opinions on things that might affect you!?

so i wonder how do you know when you become an expert? especially in fields where there are no qualifications/regulations or ratings systems. let alone fields where luck plays a large factor (e.g. poker).


Yakshi said...

Maybe the key is to find a topic that nobody gives a shit about and to learn more about it than anyone else.

Then if someone's on trial somewhere and they need an expert, you're the only choice.

One benefit is that you wouldn't have to learn that much. If nobody knows anything, then knowing a little might qualify as expertise.

The trick is finding a topic nobody cares about . . .

Mudwig said...

genius! expert witnesses make many a good days wage.

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