Expertise (work in progress)

The following mindmap condenses some of my thoughts on the nature of expertise. It is for sure not complete – and thank you, I need no assistance or references. And because I’m not here to teach you who reads this, don’t be daft and expect me to unpack every part of what follows. I’m not here to spoonfeed you – and if you demand or argue (even obliquely) for a spoonfeeding, you’re more likely to get a pot-spoon on the head (or the equivalent in verbal terms).

Screen Shot 06-24-14 at 12.17 AMThe mindmap is generated purely from my own ideas, and has no references. Why? Because it is my original thought about the topic. I do not need references to generate original thought. I’ve thought about experts in various fields and asked myself,  ‘What is it about them that distinguishes them from ordinary people?’ I’ve been thinking about this for about 1 year but more intensely in the last 4 months.

Yes – a track record of success in a particular ‘field’ is important. However, you don’t see reputation on the list. Why? I detest ‘reputation’ as a determinant of expertise. Why? Because I’ve seen many a big-wig with all the reputation, actually lacking in expertise.

At the end of the day, ‘expertise’ is about performance – and you can get good performance from someone without a great reputation. I’m afraid reputation is a thing that basically says, ‘Everybody knows him and he’s good so he’s bound to be good’. Tough – I’m not into that. I do not see reputation as a good track record of past performance – and tough if others see it differently. Yes – I know that dictionaries differ with me. I’m not ruled by dictionaries! Chryssst!!

Some of the experts I’ve been thinking about in the last year (an incomplete list):

1. Neurosurgeons.

2. Formula one racing drivers.

3. Base jumpers who don’t end up dead.

4. Military and Special forces personnel.

5. Successful forex traders.

Well of course a track record of success is important in any field – and I know somebody will argue, “Well – isn’t that a reputation that includes success?” I’m not going there! I resent reputation being a major determinant of expertise. I feel like I’m repeating myself.

All experts manage and/or evaluate risk and make better than average decisions about risk, compared to non-experts. I think that’s just basic.

You don’t see ‘critical thinking’ on the mindmap (as yet) because I expect it to fall under: Cognitive > analytical. All who ‘do’ critical thinking must be using analytical skills (as a generic term). But just remember this is a work in progress, so I can change my mind, if I feel it’s appropriate to do so.

Pattern recognition – is also a major part of expertise. It should not be confused with ‘intelligence’ because even animals with IQs not approaching that of humans can recognise patterns. I’m not debating this, I’ve been studying my cat’s behaviour and I know he’s an expert at recognising certain patterns of occurrences around my backyard. Pattern recognition ability means that experts can efficiently spot patterns that an untrained eye would normally miss, for relevance or risk. Pattern recognition and risk management are two important things that are important for basic survival of humans and some animals. Animals and humans who develop enhanced skills in those areas, can be expected to be at much advantage over those who have not.

Intelligence is not listed as part of ‘expertise’. I mean that’s assumed. And it’s the same sort of reason why I did not list ‘red blood in veins’ as a quality of being an expert. You don’t get it – I just know you don’t.

I’ve written other stuff on ‘expertise’ on this blog in the past. Tough I’m not telling you how to find it. This post means that I’m still on the ‘trail’. I’ll write more when I sift out some more ideas.

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