April 22, 2011 Leave a comment
An interesting thing that I’ve seen among many folks I know and have encountered is to presume that expertise in one field means expertise in allfields. The Freakanomics phenomenon may be taking advantage of this: the use of unexpected and unusual tools of analysis can lead to unexpected and unusual solutions; whether they are correct or not bears investigation. A related behavior discounts the thousands of hours of study & practice that a real expert puts into mastery of a subject – it’s easy to forget that whatever one knows about topic X may be completely orthogonal to topic Y.
I have, in recent days, come to appreciate what true expertise is in some fields, and I appreciate all the more the value of real experts in society. It’s one thing to pooh-pooh the medical establishment, but when you need a doctor, nothing else will do. Likewise, it’s easy to forget that the famous Shakespeare quote about killing all the lawyers was said by a villain.