Expertise matters. As Ezra Pound once noted at the beginning of the ABC of Reading, it’s a matter of having money in the bank. If I write you a check for a million dollars, that check is worthless. If Warren Buffett writes you a check for a million dollars, it’s worth it, quite literally. If I tell you something about texts, it’s worth it. Buffett? Not so much.
- We can all stipulate: the expert isn’t always right.
- But an expert is far more likely to be right than you are. On a question of factual interpretation or evaluation, it shouldn’t engender insecurity or anxiety to think that an expert’s view is likely to be better-informed than yours. (Because, likely, it is.)
- Experts come in many flavors. Education enables it, but practitioners in a field acquire expertise through experience; usually the combination of the two is the mark of a true expert in a field. But if you have neither education nor experience, you might want to consider exactly what it is you’re bringing to the argument.
- In any discussion, you have a positive obligation to learn at least enough to make the conversation possible. The University of Google doesn’t count. Remember: having a strong opinion about something isn’t the same as knowing something.