There are experts who have spent years studying, researching, and devoting a majority of their lives to a certain subject. We often assume these are formally (ie. university) educated people, and a lot of the time, they are.

Virologists, rocket scientists, theoretical physicists, brain surgeons – these are all experts in their field who have knowledge that a vast majority of us don’t.

But there are also welders, special effects artists, and woodworkers who are experts in their craft who might have earned their expertise from years of hands-on experience.

The problem with experts isn’t whether or not how they got their knowledge and mastery. The problem with experts is that we often conflate expertise in one arena with expertise in another. 

Just as you shouldn’t conflate expertise in Chinese calligraphy with expertise in drilling oil, you also shouldn’t conflate expertise in yoga with expertise in epidemiology or vaccine safety, or expertise in acting or singing with expertise in chemical biology.

It’s true that there might be an oil-drilling Chinese calligrapher, or a celebrity with advanced degrees in chemical biology, but until expertise in both areas are established, we should be more hesitant around one set of data than the other.

Expertise is something to be earned and celebrated, but let’s not conflate areas of expertise with one another.

Where in your life might you be conflating one area of expertise with another?

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