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Expert in Training -- Writer's Poke #434

Who are more dangerous: A) people who know quite a bit, and feel confident in what they know, or B) people who know quite a bit, but who also recognize the limitations of their knowledge?

Confidence. It’s a good thing, right, but confidence can lead to arrogance. Arrogance is not such a good thing, is it? Is it possible to determine when someone, maybe even yourself, has crossed over the line from confidence to arrogance? Maybe, but not always.

Now, think of what it means to be skeptical. Skepticism may develop through expertise, or it may develop through ignorance. Either way, skeptics should know what drives their skepticism, but how many think of doubting in those terms?

One more point to consider: Assumed expertise might be the most crippling form of ignorance. Unfortunately, since many people trust the views of those they assume to be experts, assumed experts have the ability to spread ignorance to the confidently unenlightened.

What’s the solution? Be aware of what you think you know, and how you think you know it. Be careful not to too easily credit others with expert status. Trust the views of “experts,” but be willing to verify their true level of expertise in any given subject. And when you believe yourself to be an expert, be sure to keep in mind that you don’t know everything. 

What is your area of expertise?

“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience.” – Denis Waitley


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