Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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An Expert Outstanding in Their Field: Part One

An Expert Outstanding in Their Field: Part One

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Milos Djukic shared the article, The Death Of Expertise by Tom Nichols. I offer my comment "out of the comment box".

“I am (or at least think I am) an expert.” Nichols may have been inserted what is in the parenthesis for the purpose of humor or irony, but it is very telling from the start. Expertise hasn’t died. But it has definitely lost its identity. 

I find myself having a difficult time in accepting Nichols’ definition of who is an expert.

He writes, “I expect that my opinion holds more weight than that of most other people.” I don't consider expectation a secure form of measurement.

He is right when he says, “Having equal rights does not mean having equal talents, equal abilities, or equal knowledge.”  But then he goes on to use it as a judgment rather than as a way of looking at individual differences.

As an integrator, I find it hard to buy into his need to subjectively separate who he deems an expert and who he deems as someone who spews “nonsense”. I find his criteria of expertise to be very narrow and limited.

Nichols cites how even experts can make mistakes; is this a statistical measurement of being human? Yet he rejects certain fields as having any expertise. Does he then measure the success in those areas as simply anomalies?

He calls the belief in every person having a right to his opinion “sanctimonious and silly”. I call it as having options and choices.

He calls the death of expertise a rejection of “science and rationality”. I consider nothing rational about most of the scientific research taking place today.

Now I will highlight something that I do agree with. Nichols writes, “the perverse effect of the death of expertise is that without real experts, everyone is an expert on everything.” This is the core of the matter.

The matter of criteria and identity but not related to the fact that we have, always have and always will have, a “flavor of the month” approach to what is in or out, good or bad, when it comes to health and lifestyle. It’s not a problem of who we deem an expert, it’s what is marketable. The pharmaceutical industry is a perfect example of this. Do we trust the science of the experts when it comes to telling us which medication is safe and appropriate? There are too many “mistakes” in this area of expertise to analyze them as human error.

I don’t appreciate Nichols dumping “ignorance” on the masses and place competence on the shoulders of research scientists.

The best teachers are those who learn from their students and the best patient is one who is actively involved in his or her care plan by creating a support team in which everyone is on the same page. The best tool any expert can own is questions; asking them and being open to hearing them.

If you found this of interest, please go on to read An Expert Outstanding in Their Field: Part Two.

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Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #7

Well said Phil Friedman. I believe you have covered the range of issues quite well and provided an important conclusion: "We are left with our intellectual instincts in these matters, which is why I believe it so important to build strength in those instincts by constantly engaging in intellectual discussion and exchange. We need to learn to distinguish those who present reasons and genuine support for their "expert" ideas and opinions from those who, in effect, say simply "this is the way it is; trust me, I know because I am an expert." "

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #6

What your comment does CityVP \ud83d\udc1d Manjit, is bring up the myriad of questions that are influencing our ability to come up with a "functional" definition of expertise and who is an expert. Right now, unfortunately it seems to be easier to suggest who is not.

CityVP Manjit

4 years ago #5

I support expertise as I support excellence, but life is not a permanent act of excellence and expertise is most meaningful applied in the context that benefits from that expertise. Personal branding and social media can promote expertise via a very short-term period and we are expected to trust this expertise because it is now the orthodoxy. Nichols is reacting to the demand for solutions for fake news and superficial promotion. If I am an expert in a field that is no longer relevant then I am an expert of a legacy rather than an expert our time and place demands. We have encountered these types of issues and these kind of issues are where mythologies arise around the expert. At the same time new thinking abounds about the generalist, that does not negate the specialist. One example is discussions about "The Neo-Generalist" - so when we are talking about what an expert is. What we are really saying is whether it is a specialist that is an Island of Excellence, defending their turf as old fashioned politics. When we become political about expertise we are defending a space as a soldier fighting a war against transforming forces, trying to justify a professional position in the face of disruptive change. What makes Nichol's book a lightning rod is that science has come under fire in a way that is entirely political and in this sense the death of expertise is very real, because politics has tried to subvert science. How do we become aware of that which is truly insipid and truly fluff without viewing our own part in this? When we don't see ourselves separate from this, then the response of those that are more blatant or brutal in their value judgement is to point the finger back at us. So what I extract from this discussion is what I can learn and not the nature of my own expertise online. Humility is needed and it is in short measure.

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #4

Appreciate your comment Harvey Lloyd. Can't isolate any one point as you pull it all together very well. Thanks.

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #3

Thank you for sharing your experience and point of view Vincent Andrew. As cliche as this may sound, it's our attitude towards learning and achievement that makes the difference. I'll never forget the experience I had when as an adult I went to my parents' city of birth in Romania. At the cemetery I was shocked to see the gravestones include the title of the deceased; Professor, Engineer, Doctor, Lawyer...The title was the important piece of achievement. I know of individuals who, the more they learn, the more excited they are to keep learning and, more importantly, to share that learning. My impression of you from your comment is that you have the quality of being a listener and that you are open to hearing and learning from a variety of sources. The sign of a true expert.

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #2

Thank you Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic for your contribution. Expert/ long as you are seen as someone who people can turn to within a specific context, you have proven when it comes to X that you're the one associated with that, then, as far as I'm concerned, you have succeeded in making yourself known.

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #1

Thank you Ali Anani, Brand Ambassador of beBee for a very powerful contribution to the discussion.

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