The following thoughts are connected to a short discussion about this article (Not well thought through as yet, so I apologize if they are muddled):
And also related to Jake Steinmann's blog post:
The discussion started with the comment that there are 'too many experts already' - Referring to the plethora of self titled experts on the internet, but also to lineages of 'experts', given a title through study, but perhaps study of something not exactly satisfying the standards of scientific rigor ... ahem ....
So the discussion moved on to whether there really are experts, whether they are 'useful', and what really separates an expert in a field from anyone else with an opinion?
How about credentials? (Containing the implied reputation of the institute of study).
And how about track record in problem solving, or doing something for the common good? Is that a prerequisite?
.... But what if there are experts with experience and good credentials, yet who still get things wrong and cannot seem to predict outcomes or solve problems within their field? Are they still 'experts'?
After all, there are people who have studied how weather works for years and years ... yet who cannot predict or explain certain phenomena? Surely they are experts in their field? But the farmer who has worked the land for their whole life and has watched the weather through those many years .... They too are experts, right? And perhaps they are better at passing on their knowledge to others than theorists or someone building computer models ...?
OK ... Flip to the other end of the equation ... the non expert. We are all non-experts in most things, and need experts to help understand those things we do not know.
There is obviously not enough time in one life to understand everything about the universe, so, we hire a builder to build our house, we take our car to the mechanic, we go to school to learn about mathematics, or ceramics, and we might hire a guide if traveling in a place that is unfamiliar and dangerous.
All these practical skill sets that are fairly easy to rate. The house does not leak, the car works, 2+2 is 4 etc ...... But what of those knowledge sets that are harder to quantify in real life? Economics? Psychology? History?
Seems like you can be an expert here and still be dead wrong in your conclusions ..... So what does that mean? Is 'coming to a conclusion' the place where expertise fails? Or are those people really not experts at all?
Perhaps you can only be an expert in 'things' .... but not in thinking ..... Unless there is a way of seeing if your conclusions hold up in reality. (And where the edges of that reality are is another question ...)
I guess experts can be problem solvers, but perhaps a better description of true experts are those people that can see the right questions that need to be asked. See things as they really are ... the real problems that need to be solved, not just pull ideas out of the air as possible answers .......