Out of context experts are not experts

What are you an expert in?

Maybe it has to do with your job.  Maybe it's a hobby or an interest. 

Can you think of something?

Being an expert is fun. There's a thrill to feeling your expertise grow, the thrill of progress.  And you can really help people if you really know what you're talking about.  And on top of that, who doesn't like having people turn to them looking for answers?

But you can't be an expert at everything.  And it's so tempting to act like in expert even in contexts where you aren't an expert.  This happens all the time.

Just today I caught my self acting like an expert.  I was at the doctor's office.  For a sore toe.  Lame, I know.  I thought I knew what was wrong ... thank you WebMD ... and just wanted the doctor to see me and give me a brace or something.  But I'm no medical expert.

The doctor asked me if I had gout.  I told him "no" ... firmly ... then realized I didn't know what gout was.  Why was I talking like an expert?

Out of context experts are not experts.

Working in ministry, we see this all the time.  Many college professors love to jump fields, talking about religion and philosophy with a borrowed air of reflected expertise.  Our faces turn red over out-of-context lectures and books by Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.  How dare they act like experts!

But we turn around and do the same thing.

Where do you think this pull to act like an expert comes from?

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