Episode 137: Muffins and Experts

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Being an expert has a lot to do with muffins. Or rather, when I was eating a fresh muffin the other day for breakfast it certainly got me thinking about experts.

You see, I eat my muffins differently than the rest of my family. They break off the top of the muffin and butter the top and then the bottom. I felt like it would be better to cut my muffin down the middle so I could eat a muffin top with every bite (since the tops are the best). Well, this brought teasing from my kids and wife.

The other day, my daughter got a broken muffin so she had to eat it ‘my way’ by buttering it down the middle. She admitted after eating it that I was right and my way was better. We both considered ourselves experts in what we liked to eat.

Who Is an Expert?

The definition of what an expert is is fairly well defined but the exact qualifications is not. Being an expert is probably more a matter of degrees of knowledge and mastery than any absolute number. I am certainly more an expert in all things medical than most people, but when compared to other physicians that would sometimes not be the case.  

Is the Expert Really an Expert in What We Are Discussing?

The biggest problem with the use of the term expert over the last year and a half of the pandemic is that we proclaim people experts when they can’t possibly be experts. No one has lived through a unique respiratory viral coronavirus pandemic such as we are having. Yet, many proclaim that they know the best treatments, mitigation measures, and modeling predictions. Certainly, some have a better foundational knowledge than others but since this is brand new there is no way anyone can be an expert in this particular disease/phenomenon.

Stay Humble

Ultimately, if you are in this space where you might not really be an exact expert in what is being discussed, you need to acknowledge it and accept some humility that you can’t know. Also, you have to be open the possibility that you may, in fact, be completely wrong. Even experts in their own specialized field are occasionally wrong and must recognize that and be even more cautious when giving ‘expert opinion’ on topics in which they can’t know as much.

Self reflection on who an expert is and whether they might be wrong is critical.

show notes

Episode 137: Today’s show

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