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Trusting experts Mon, Mar 23, 2015
At some point in the last few years, I realized I'm an expert at my job.  I'm not an expert because I know the most or because I'm the best at what I do.  I'm an expert simply as a result of doing my specific, complex job for about ten years.  If someone showed up at my job and told me how to do it or questioned why I did it a certain way (which has happened), I would calmly but confidently explain to them why I'm right and they're wrong.  I'm not closed to new ideas, but there are certain aspects of my job that are simply settled matters of math and physics.  That stuff isn't changing. 

Around the time I realized I was an expert, I realized that other people are also experts in their respective fields.  Specifically scientists.  I used to want to question the methods used by evolutionary scientists or the conclusions drawn by climate scientists.  But then I realized that my questioning of their basic methods of research is equivalent to someone questioning the math and physics of my core job duties.  Feel free to question in a friendly inquisitive manner, but be prepared to eat your words and feel like an idiot.  If you can even grasp the entirety of what I actually do (which isn't that complex but takes some getting used to), I can almost guarantee that you won't present an idea that hasn't already been presented, dissected, and rejected. 

That's why it bothers me when non-experts question experts about things like evolution, climate change, and immunization.  The internet has made everyone quasi-experts about everything.  But when 99.85% of experts agree on evolution, or when 97.2% of experts agree on climate change, or when 86% of experts agree on vaccines, I think it's time to recognize who the real experts are.  Hint:  It's probably not you. #science


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