“Experts” and Other Myths

A few years back we hired someone to work in our office who put on her resume that she was an “Excel Expert”. Since I am self-taught with Excel, I was excited to get some expert advice on how to tighten up my spreadsheet formulas.

Well – about two weeks into her job, I ended up having to show her how to use basic Excel functions (let alone formulas!). When I confronted her about her alleged “expertise” she had no choice but to come clean. Turns out she had only taken an Excel class. One where they didn’t really delve into the world of spreadsheet formulas or formatting evidently. Did she actually think she’d get away with lying? Didn’t she think her “expertise” would be put to the test?

When did it become okay to pretend to be an expert? How come so many people get away with pretending to be experts?

It’s a sad day when people think just because they’ve used a program a few times, can do a web search and find an answer, or read something, or have seen someone else do something that they can coin themselves “experts” and end up getting jobs or recognition because of it – until everyone finds out otherwise anyway.

I’ve heard this happens a lot in computer related fields. I’m no programmer myself, but I know people who are. I’ve heard stories again and again where people are hired based on their alleged “development” expertise, only to later find they only knew how to use an END USER program. Knowing how to use Dreamweaver or an end user program that creates code for you is A LOT different than knowing how to program in HTML, Java Script, CGI, etc by writing actual CODE.

This is why nowadays when ANYONE calls themselves an “expert” I am immediately wary and expect proof. I also refuse to allow anyone to call me an expert. A woman in one of my writer’s groups once introduced me as an expert in medieval history because she knew it was an interest of mine. I immediately corrected her. Just because I’m interested in medieval history, have done some research, and have read some books doesn’t mean I have PhD knowledge of the subject let alone expertise.

Dictionary.com Defines an Expert as:

1. a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority: a language expert.

From my perspective, an expert is someone who IS an authority. They know everything (or as much as someone with a PhD) about a specific subject, have extensive EXPERIENCE with a specific subject — or at least know more than 95% of us.

Otherwise — it’s just a skill, interest, or limited experience.

It’s my opinion that our culture has come to a point where lying and embellishing the truth is commonplace. I’m still of the school of thought that people should have to EARN their expertise. I also think it’s a huge character flaw and shows lack of integrity and moral compass when someone lies about knowing what they clearly don’t know.

About Steph

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at swordarkeereon@gmail.com

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