The Real Heroes (Information Finding Championship S02R10)

in ifc •  last month

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This is my entry for the Information Finding Championship Round 10 Season 02 with the topic of "Heroes".

This was a bit of a tricky question to begin writing on. There are many heroes that are held up for view, and that have received general recognition... sometimes, the recognition is deserved.. other times it is a product of deft marketing.... More often than not, there are a class of people who are more concerned and skillful at selling themselves as heroes or heroic, whilst the people just doing the work and getting things done are often overlooked... as they are spending their energies, doing the work!

This is a problem that is exacerbated by our beloved Internet and the democratisation of attention. This has led to the problem that the people and ideas that generally get the most attention are not really the ones that are the most important, as it is an exercise in marketing rather than in critical analysis of substance that will determine the heroes and important ideas of the day. Sometimes these concepts line up... and a worthy hero or idea is featured, more often than not, the attention span and general understanding of the lay public is not sufficient to have anything more than superficial easy on the eyes (and brains) heroes and ideas to be widely promoted.

My heroes

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My heroes are a class of people who I will describe as "experts" in their fields. These are the people who devote the bulk of their lives and thoughts into the deep understanding of a particular professions or topic, sometimes quite a narrow but very deep focus. In today's era of democratisation of opinions, it is been too easy, popular and common for people to dismiss the viewpoint of an expert (in their field of expertise). It has led to the perverse idea that all opinions on a given topic are of equal weighting.

Contrary to popular belief, experts are not defined by anything more special than a deep knowledge and experience in a particular field. They speak with a certain degree of authority in their field of expertise that is born from a long relationship with the topic at hand, which informs and nuances every statement that they make on the matter. Often, this is perceived as arrogance by those who don't know better, but if those people stopped to think about what they knew a great deal about, then they would see that they are experts in their own particular areas, where a non-expert opinion in that area would hold much less weight. Perhaps these two quotes help illustrate what a real expert is:

[an expert is] "an ordinary fellow from another town"

Mark Twain

[an expert is] "a person that has made every possible mistake within their field"

Niels Bohr

It is a far cry from the loud-mouthed infallible self professed 'experts' that grace (or have been booted from) YouTube, Twitter and various TV and radio mediums, who blast the do called 'elitism' of the real experts with straw man arguments and cherry picked data backed up by a surface scratching of a deep topic and fearless conviction of their infallibility.

Now, it isn't to say that experts can't be blinded by a sort of siloed thinking either. This can definitely happen and sometimes it takes an outside with expertise in a different but unexpectedly related field to break new ground or to launch into a new paradigm. However, that expertise is rarely the expertise of self-marketing!

Likewise, expertise in one field doesn't mean that they are experts in other fields. In fact, it is wise to recognise the limits of expertise and to realise that you are nothing better than a real amateur in other fields!

So, in an incredibly long winded way... I would like to class experts as my heroes. Experts are everywhere, not just in specific topics of Science ce... But also in art and music... In child care and in teaching... In cooking (or cleaning up afterwards!). Everyone is an expert in something! The trick is knowing what it is and where it ends, and to aspire to grow that circle!


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firstly your post title and photo selection is very meaningful. i also agree with you, everyone is an expert in something. that's true.

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Yes.. We just need to know what it is.. And when we are not!

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