What is an expert?

According to my friendly artificial intelligence, this is what an expert is:

An expert is defined as an individual who possesses extensive knowledge, skills, and experience in a specific field or subject matter. They have a deep understanding and mastery of the subject, allowing them to provide valuable insights, guidance, and solutions. Experts often demonstrate consistent and exceptional performance in their area of expertise, and their expertise is recognized and respected by others in the field.

However, it appears that the word expert has become the most abused word in the English language. Just reading through some articles recently, I came across the following experts!

  • There is the pilot expert that tells you to wear loose fitting clothes and drink plenty of water on a long flight.
  • Then I discovered an A-list nutritionist (presumably she only works for those with money) who not only finds another way to present the same old, eat less and exercise more, she also uses debatable science to try and convince us non-A-listers that we can reverse the aging process in two weeks.
  • Then we have the various experts whose predictions for the future of AI is everything from solving the energy crisis, enhancing the world economy, or destroying mankind.
  • Apparently you also need a special influencer expert to tell you how to clean your washing machine after you left the clothes in it overnight..
  • There is the security expert who tells you that you should remember to lock your car, not leave things on show on the seats and not park in dark places. Bet you haven’t heard those before.

This is only the tip of a very large iceberg; one that makes the iceberg that sank the Titanic look like a drinks ice cube. By abusing the word ‘expert’ the opinions on offer are meant to imply earth shattering knowledge that you or I could not possibly know and certainly could not do without.

This ‘knowledge’ is also often confusing and conflicting. You need to eat this or not eat it. You need to do this for a good night’s sleep, or not do it. You should exercise more or exercise less. You should drink alcohol or not drink alcohol. The advice comes thick and fast.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where people are too busy or too lazy to fact check the information or to see who these ‘experts’ really are. Therefore, a proportion of the population will follow these pearls of wisdom slavishly.

The reality, if you bother to do the research, is that the person is either being paid money for their opinions or have a new book out or both. Even worse, many of these ‘experts’ have risen to the higher echelons of social media as an ‘influencer’. This means that social media addicts will follow their words slavishly, thereby ensuring a sometimes ridiculously high income for the influencer from brands when the influencer mentions them. As with any addiction, the addicts need regular fixes and hence the need to regularly come up with more and more trivia for their followers.

I once wondered what would happen if these ‘experts’ appeared on Mastermind. What would be their chosen subject? Perhaps their chose subject could be common sense. Certainly, if we do need to be fed this trivia, then common sense is clearly not that common.

After a lifetime in business, I was once introduced as an ‘expert’. I quickly responded that I did not want to be called an expert as ‘ex’ meant has been and ‘spirt’ was a drip under pressure. I think that is truer today than ever.

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