The Problem With Experts

We can all agree that it’s important to distinguish between real experts and those posing to be experts. People look to experts for advice on any number of subjects.

I remember sitting in class at the University of Texas where I majored in Government, and looked over one of my professor’s accomplishments. He was a Harvard grad, wrote dozens of articles which had been published, and even co-authored a book on a subject he was expert on. The one thing missing from this list of accomplishments was any actual experience in politics, government, or international relations. He was a student ALL of his life. His ideas and points of views were all molded by other people’s experiences. He may have known more than most people about politics and how government technically works, but does he really have the authority to call himself an expert if he’s never spent any time in the field? Is he familiar with the nuances that goes into every day decision making, or is he going off a hunch?

In my field today where my company sits at the bleeding edge of the intersection between social and commerce, I am surrounded by so called experts. They are experts of web 2.0, social media, and any other term you can think of that’ll make a Twitter lover salivate. Yet you ask one of these experts how to effectively create a program that will drive sales through social applications, and you will get answers that are far more chimerical than actionable.

I’m sure everybody has had experience with these types, but we’ve also all been fooled by them. Next time you talk to somebody who mentions they’re an expert, dig beneath the surface; you never know what you might find. Remember that false expertise is usually hidden behind the cloak of broad generalizations and limited experiences.

Sean Hannity, so-called Economics expert, who never graduated college and has been in radio his entire career

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5 responses to “The Problem With Experts

  1. Today people want actionable items that have results. People need to make money and keep themselves moving forward. Experts who are just cheerleaders are not only unneeded right now, they are also going to be broke.

    Dr. Wright
    The Wright Place TV Show
    http://www.wrightplacetv.com
    http://www.twitter.com/drwright1

  2. Love, love this post. It’s so important to actually enact what you learn, not just retain the knowledge in your head.

  3. This is a great post. I think what you’re referring to is the difference between theory and action. What’s the use of knowing all about a subject theoretically if you’re never going to go out there and implement it? Knowledge is power and it’s so important to use that power to accomplish something good. There’s far too much talk in the world today, and too little action.

  4. Nice post. I have had same problem calling myself social media strategist, yet I only have exercised very few practices that result in more sales.
    Out of all the interactive marketing strategists I have seen, the social media strategists most lack in the experiences and the real world practices.

    What we need is more practitioner with the results in numbers instead of the theory. Instead of what it could bring to the table, what it ‘had’ brought to the table.

  5. You make some great points here. There are definitely many ‘experts’ in our world today and anyone can call themselves an expert over the internet, however, I agree with your thoughts that you can’t truly be an expert until you have participated in experiences in your field of expertise.

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