“What I find so striking today is not that people dismiss expertise, but that they do so with such frequency, on so many issues, and with such anger.”
~ Tom Nichols writing in The Death of Expertise
That sentiment scares me. In the public sphere, experts who have spent their adult lives mastering a field are challenged by folks who have no deep knowledge at all. Those folks are sure their opinion is more likely to be right than the judgement of seasoned experts.
One of my friends is a physician. She’s recognized as one of the best in the county in her specialty. She can tell story after story of patients who argue with her about a recommendation. They’re convinced that their opinion and a Google search are as good as, or maybe better than her 40 years’ experience.
Those fools could be risking their lives. When people ignore my advice, they’re just risking their wealth.
For more than 30 years, I’ve been mastering my craft and pursuing excellence. I earned an MBA and my CCIM designation, investment real estate’s most prestigious credential. I’ve received about a dozen countywide awards which imply that I’m at least competent.
The reality is I’m not as good as I want to be and I’m certainly not without error. But each year hundreds of millionaires vote with their money that my opinion and perceptions are better than the man in the street. They think my skill and knowledge will help them do better than they can doon their own. My team works hard to increase the likelihood that reality will match their hope.
Vince was a new client. I told him what I thought was his best alternative in the next six months. He agreed the asset was quite desirable, yet he wanted a better deal. He asked I deceive the other side. I refused to compromise my integrity and warned him his actions would cost him this opportunity and others.
I give the best advice I can to every client, but in the end, the client decides what to do. Vince went with his opinion and the opportunity evaporated. Vince was upset and unhappy.
Unbeknownst to Vince, two award-winning agents drew conclusions about his credibility and likelihood of performance. His choice may be more costly to him as he tries to secure rare and superior options. I wished him success in finding a more profitable opportunity. We agreed we would not work together again.
Opinions are easy to construct. With a few mouse clicks you can find all kinds of information and weave them into a viewpoint that feels good. Some opinions are supported by deep expertise and experience. Others are supported by not much more than hope.
In complex matters, no mortal knows it all. It’s hard for a layman to know whether their MD, attorney or other professional is correct. It can be presumptuous to assume that an untrained layman’s opinion is equal to the opinion of an experienced professional.
Respect for expertise is important. So is trust. If you don’t trust your physician or attorney or broker, you should find another advisor. If you won’t listen to their advice, it doesn’t matter how good their advice is.
What is your take on expertise?
When you’re a consumer, how do you decide what information is valid?
How do you decide who to trust?
Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.”