Prediction for 2010: The Era of the “Expert” Is Over

2010 predictions are crap
Photo by seanmcgrath

If anything, let 2010 mark the point in time where we stop relying on “experts”.

Gone. Buh-bye.

You see, the experts get us into trouble. They provide “insights” to guide our way when we think we don’t know the answer. Or they tell us we’re wrong.

It never fails to amaze me how many “experts” publish their predictions for the upcoming year. I wonder what would happen if we looked at all of their predictions from 2009 and compared them to what actually happened. (Wasn’t this Winter supposed to be warm?!)

But we eat predictions from experts up. We love to have the inside scoop and make our own predictions. It’s human nature.

If you take a look at many of the experts, most aren’t really that qualified, at least in a sense that we’d imagine. We’d like to believe that some sort of formal education took place in order to earn their lofty title, like education a doctor or lawyer goes through.

But, shockingly, most experts never earned a Harvard diploma.

They might have made been lucky enough to make an outlandish claim that became true to qualify them. Or they have “social proof” in their favor, with thousands of Twitter followers proving that they’re an authority. Some might have even had formal training or schooling of some manner.

I can’t tell you how many financial books I’ve read by average Joes who’ve failed with finance, did their research, learned what they did wrong, and shared what they learned through their failure. Those are real experts.

Still, one thing’s for certain: We don’t need modern-day prophets to hypothesize about the future. If they knew the future, then they’d be rich off the lottery or the stock market. Like Biff from Back to the Future II.

Let’s do a quick review:

  1. Most experts aren’t really experts, they’re just opinionated people who have at least a passing knowledge of a subject. But more importantly…
  2. We’re just as qualified to make claims as the experts.
  3. Thanks to the Web, you can learn just about anything and become knowledgeable on about any subject. You and I are just as qualified as most of the experts. How many “social media expert” titles do you see on Twitter profiles? Apparently knowing how to toot on Twitter is enough to qualify…

    So before you listen to an expert, ask yourself why he’s more qualified than you. (Here’s a tip: did he have to call himself an “expert”? Real experts don’t need to add their own title.) Trust and authority are earned, not found in a title. Even if it is a master’s degree from Harvard.

    And what if you want to be an expert? Learn every day about your topic. Keep your eyes open. Pay attention to trends. Fail a few times.

    And for the love of pete, don’t publish your yearly predictions at the beginning of the year. We both know you’re just guessing.

Leave a Comment

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • erich January 13, 2010, 5:52 pm

    I think you are missing a big point here. Experts used to be boring, they would say things that made sense, and would know enough to admit they could be wrong or not know. We voted with our feet and dollars, so the reporters (who are responsible for putting 'experts' in front of us) got the message. Now they put the type of 'expert' you're talking about in front of us. They make stupid, ignorant, obviously wrong, and/or sensationalistic claims. These claims turn out to be wrong, and pretty much right away. When this happens we get a bit of delight, thinking “look at me, im better than that expert, i was right (or at least not as wrong as him)”. This is what we want, not some boring guy who talks about a complex feild in complex sentances — these poindexters have no place in our entertainment. The money is in people with overly simple ideas (and those who oppose them with equally overly simplistic ideas) so that is what we get. Most people will never willingly give this up, depsite what the internet seems to indicate.

  • Tim Glover January 12, 2010, 12:11 pm

    Great post. I believe that there is no absolute on the definitions around “expert” and there is no absolute on “truth” or whatever your focus, it is all subjective and should be acknowledged as such. The trick is finding someone that is a relevant expert for you at the time and given the circumstances. The political leaders, economists, financial types have advanced themselves on the basis of being experts within a certain type of environment. I would point out that an “expert” on complexity theory and knowledge management, David Snowden identified that there is a time and a place when relying on experts makes sense, and equally there is a time and a place to rely on intuitive navigation.
    The trick to navigating the world, ie. relying on others or relying on self or both is made easier if you become an “expert” in reading the environment that you are trying to navigate.
    An environment that is chaotic and/or complex is the domain of artists, creatives and entrepreneurs. An environment that is simple and/or complicated is the domain of best practices and “experts”.

    I fully agree that the age of “experts” ie. the age of simple/complicated is going to take a back seat for a time. The New Economy is volatile, uncertain and ambiguous and this requires that we tap our creative, our innate genius our everyday artist… and that is going to disappoint alot of academics and alot of old economy leader experts. A point in fact, it is going to level the playing field. Whether it ushers in a new age of creativity that is more collaborative and interdependent or it results in true chaos remains to be seen.

  • Walter January 11, 2010, 10:03 pm

    I have always been cynical about experts. But there are those whom I can fit the title of experts, they are those who are humble in their words and speak through experience. They are those who allow you to reflect upon yourself and see the bigger picture. :-)

  • Alexandra January 7, 2010, 4:53 pm

    Great post! Experts have been getting on my nerves. Most of them not only have no real qualifications in what they're supposed to be experts in, but merely come to the title because they are of the personality that they are willing to put their predictions out there and be wrong. And a personality trait should not be what separates experts from others! Become your own expert!

  • Kamal January 7, 2010, 9:30 am

    So we are guessing this post too, aren't we? :P
    But yeah! Well said sir. The era of expert has gone overboard for sure… Esp the “twitter-self-proclaimed-title-experts” and such.

    • Glen Stansberry January 7, 2010, 10:08 am

      Yeah, the title was meant to be tongue-in-cheek ;)

  • Shrey January 7, 2010, 9:01 am

    Great article… I feel intuition and instinct are the two guiding forces of our life. Trust them , and they are the experts that you need. :)

  • Kyle Stern January 7, 2010, 8:59 am

    Couldn't agree more, Glen. I'm a big fan of the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition which proposes a five-stage method with the term “expert” as the last stage. The qualities of an expert, according to the Dreyfus model are:
    1. No longer reliant on rules, guidelines, maxims.
    2. Intuitive grasp of situation, based on tacit knowledge.
    3. Vision of what is possible
    Here's a link from Wikipedia about the Dreyfus model. There's way more knowledge out there about this knowledge, but Wikipedia seemed the quickest one to link.

    • Glen Stansberry January 7, 2010, 9:22 am

      I like the Dreyfus model, but I think it's a bit off. Here's how I think it should look:

      1. Novice
      * rigid adherence to rules
      * no discretional judgment
      * update Twitter profile to reflect level of “expert”


  • Shrey January 7, 2010, 8:57 am

    Hi. Cool article… I feel that when we try an expert, its more because we are not confident of ourselves (instinct and intuition). Developing our intuitiveness, we can crack any puzzle in the world, solve the toughest situations and achieve great heights. Really liked the article.

    I have a motivation blog of my own. Would love if you take a look at it.