Talk about an overused way in which to describe an individual. In this day and age, and in all facets of our lives, we are often referred or called attention to the opinions of “experts.” Whether dealing with professional or personal issues, there are always experts nearby ready to render their opinion and influence our actions.
An expert is defined by the dictionary as someone with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject. While I am fond of stating that, in my opinion “there are no experts,” I do realize there are individuals who possess a great deal of knowledge on a particular subject that exceeds the amount held by a vast majority of others. These individuals, through years of research, hands-on experience and a true passion for their chosen area of expertise, may indeed have earned the title of expert. My beef is with those who are labeled or believe themselves to be an expert, when they have done little to validate their opinions.
Lately, it seems the term has been applied more often and to many, many more people than in times past. Where did all these experts come from and how did they amass their intellectual superiority? In news reporting the term is often assigned to anonymous sources in an effort to protect identity, i.e.: a well-placed expert (or source). I understand this practice, but doesn’t all this expert testimony and abundance of expert opinion begin to water-down credibility or mask a lack of thorough research? Isn’t it becoming self defeating?
Like many definitions, the term “expert” has become over used, if not abused. People have come to quote expert testimony and expert witnesses or report that experts agree as a way to insert credibility for an opinion or to bolster an argument. It short, the term has become meaningless. Personally, I’ve begun to doubt the experts, mainly because there are so many of them and they can’t possibly all be right.
It’s getting to the point that nothing can be reported, asserted or shared without the backing of an expert, further eroding true, reliable or supported expert opinion.
Regarding all the experts that have cropped up on the internet; just because one is able to post a thought or opinion with a few keystrokes, doesn’t automatically make them an instant expert. Especially when the post is delivered anonymously.
And yet, here I go, spouting my opinion without any supporting information or back-up testimony. What does that make me? Certainly not an expert, on experts.