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Expert vs Wisdom  RSS feed

 
Michael Forest
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The topic on "Judgemental" brought to mind a word I've pondered over from time to time:

What is an expert?
Is the term definable in any meaningful way? I've worked/associated with experts over the years and what they laid out on the table was some knowledge, credentials for that knowledge,varying degrees of experience. Rarely,rarely did they imbue a sense of wisdom. Expert gets confused with authority a lot of the time,as if the words are interchangeable. An authority doesn't necessarily need knowledge, since that person has the cultural approval to dictate.In our surface thinking culture we often assume the expert is the one "in the know" regarding a particular subject. A consultant is an expert with a disclaimer. Consultants recognise the importance of having an "out" just by chance their wrong. And there can be some small semblance of wisdom in that.

I've been called an expert and my internal response has been: oh really? Usually those projecting the label are looking for an answer to a situation/ problem, so they can claim it as the answer. It's also a way of sluffing of responsible (in other words, protecting their ass). When I told my manager I was leaving the system he confided in me with: "Isn't it funny after working your way up,or defaulting into, a position, people just assume you have the answers"? I mentioned I had learned that by my mid twenties, having had the indirect authority to make decisions with multimillion $$ implications.

I've often wondered if the ivy league institutions of higher learning are draws because they offer the most respected credentials for expertise. To graduate from Harvard,MIT,Yale seems to mean something much more than graduating from, say Iowa State University. It ain't wisdom, with any noticeable appreciation, that's for sure.

Reflecting further,culturally we place high value on expertise and little value on wisdom. The talk show always invites the expert on,even announcing them as such: expert,authority,consultant. But even some one who's core striving is toward deepening wisdom, perhaps a poet, writer,engineer, they are never introduced as the"wise engineer". It sounds funny,false. But why? We have no trouble associating wisdom,with whom, we like to now call indigenous cultures. But the value we place on their contribution to society usually has to do with the struggle to preserve or revitalize their traditions. We don't expect any "expertise" for incorporation in the greater society.

Not being judgemental at all, if one wants to make money, being an expert is a good shtick to have.


"What's an expert? I read somewhere, that the more a man knows, the more he knows, he doesn't know. So I suppose one definition of an expert would be someone who doesn't admit out loud that he knows enough about a subject to know he doesn't really know how much."
Malcolm S. Forbes
 
wayne stephen
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Joel Salatin writes in his critiques of American culture of us as a nation of specialists . Maybe that is a better word to describe a pseudoexpert. In the truest sense expert and wisdom would be synonomous. A person with intense experience and education in a particular field combined with the wisdom gained from practice and learning from their own and others mistakes. [We can not confuse expertise with perfection. Humans we will always be.] So , we have a nation of pseudoexperts called specialists . Some specialists may be experts. The skill lacking in our culture is recognizing expertise. We are not being taught to use discernment and critical thinking . If you are a regular consumer of TV shows you will see hacks like Dr Phil posing as counselers and ramming heartboken men and women through a public pillory of their human dysfunctions . This poses as expert advice and people believe he is an expert. If you watch reality tv shows you are being led to believe that these young , dysfuntional , petty , and shallow folks are worthy of celebrity . People will flock to get their autographs at the mall . Can they sing like David Crosby ? Can they act like Meryll Streep ? Why are they celebrities ? {Sinister ? If you will believe Dr Phil is an expert maybe you will believe something else. Wag the Dog? } There is a woman locally who has a business doing iridology readings in a local health food store. She diagnoses illness and prescribes herbs and supplements , fasting , etc. Reasons I have heard for going to her have been " Well , Doctors don't know everything ." "The doctors are getting kickbacks from the pharmaceutical companies." That may be true or false . Do those facts qualify her to do what she does ? She may be enormously qualified and her diagnostic procedure may be superior to xrays and blood tests , but how ? What is the success rate of iridology vs. just guessing ? What is her background and education in that field ? How many of her diagnosis were correct and how many of her people got better ? How would anyone know ? I have read that the origin of the word "believe" is "I will leave it up to you". We can surrender our minds to others and accept expertise on a whim , or we can exercise the muscle between our ears and gain some expertise in recognizing experts.
 
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