5 thoughts on “Self-Appointed Experts

  1. Why is it that “experts” cannot agree among themselves (does ‘global warming’ actually take place)?

    Why is it that plenty of “experts” are still heavily disputed, decades or centuries after their death (Sigmund Freud)?

    Why is it that people who were “experts” at one time, are now discredited and thought of worse than charlatans, maybe even criminals (Walter Freeman, ’the lobotomist’ or the Tuskegee study spring to mind)?

    Why is it that plenty of artists or composers, great “experts” in their arts and highly regarded in their lifetime have fallen by the wayside and just linger as a footnote(if that) in history?

    There is no such thing as an “expert” who cannot be challenged. Only for the pope is such a thing as dogma and ‘ex cathedra’. Those who mind being challenged are not “experts” but evangelists or indoctrinators.

    What makes the real “expert” is humility, humility, humility; (something the link provided does not have a trace of).

    1. Thanks for your reply! I believe you misunderstand me: these days, when craft dying it is more important than ever to separate the real knowledge from the fake one, and I can tell you: there is much out there. We have 4000 thousand years of traditions, and these traditions unprotected without laws, and trade chambers. This is not a question of humility. I think I can speak of the name of many real craftsman – we don’t intend to share our reputation with fake craftsmen. (And I am not talking about amateurs, hobby shoemakers or students. I am talking about “self appointed experts”.).

  2. Absolutely I agree that there is no such thing as an expert who cannot be challenged. There is no such claim made in the article. A central point is that experts don’t accept things dogmatically, and that there is a constant competition of ideas in professional circles.

    However, what is worth noting is that not all opinions carry the same weight. The idea that humility equals expertise is patently false. Generally, experts are quite humble in dealing with other people who know what they’re talking about. What is addressed here is the idea that everyone’s opinion deserves the same level of respect and consideration, regardless of their knowledge or qualifications.

    As stated in the article:
    • It’s not arrogance to say what you know professionally. It is arrogance to reject expert opinion without having expertise of your own.

    It’s easy to conflate objective technical disciplines with subjective areas such as art and psychology, and it’s easy to be misled by the fact that some areas are simply based on opinion. Purely subjective fields are inherently devoid of experts; tastes change. Fundamental techniques and facts, however, are not subject to changes in style. As an aside, there is far less disagreement among experts about subjects such as global warming than is reported in the media for the sake of getting attention, but that’s a whole other discussion.

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb addresses the same subject in The Black Swan and Fooled By Randomness, both of which make for fascinating reading. He draws a clear distinction between objective fields and subjective fields, and discusses the existence of verifiable expertise within them.

    To relate this to shoemaking: There is a clear basis for qualifying someone as an expert in this field. A master shoemaker is anything but self-appointed. He is a master not because he considers himself one, but because other experts have given him that certification after he proved his competence. There is certainly artistry involved in this craft, and though one may have differences of opinion about the subjective, aesthetic aspects of the product, I find it ridiculous that anyone would even presume to challenge a recognized expert on technical matters such as the definition of the word “wholecut”, for example.

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