How much am I missing by not being an "expert"...

Ignorance is bliss…or is it?

How much am I missing by not being an “expert” at something?

Food expert: “I love the flavor layering and contrast of texures.”
Me: “This tastes good and I like the crunchy bits”

Car expert: “I have an enhanced suspension and use premium tires.”
Me: “When I drive my car on these roads, it’s lot a more bumpy.”

Movie or audio expert: “I love the way the director framed that scene and used the music so effectively.”
Me: “That was a good movie, especially that one scene.”

BTW, I’m completely happy with liking what I like even without knowing why I like it! :stuck_out_tongue:

IMHO, it’s worth it to be an expert in something. But it’s not worth it to be an expert in any particular thing unless you’re interested in that thing. And no one can be an expert in everything.

I love magic. However, the more I learn about it the less I’m interested in it. The mystique diminishes and the thought of practicing anything for weeks to impress some friends every once in a while is not appealing to me in any way.

I think it’s probably more healthy to be well-rounded. A true expert in any one thing has obviously spent X amount of hours refining their expertise. Perhaps neglecting other things.

This. One bad thing about the net is that you get bombarded with expertise from hundreds of people, and it is easy to get depressed about it. You don’t have to listen to every third rate Baroque composer to be a well rounded person.
We’ve increased bandwidth, we’ve increased processor power, we’ve expanded memory - but we haven’t increased the number of hours in the day.

Still being an expert in something you get paid for is very useful, since it distinguishes you and makes laying you off painful - sometimes. And being an expert in a field leads to good networking opportunities. But that doesn’t go for civilian life.

I like doing origami. I like trying to make a new model. ‘Trying’ being the operative word. Sometimes I am very successful, other times, not so much. The fun is in the trying. If I was perfect I would not enjoy it much.

My friend is an expert in music (played in a band for years, works as a DJ, has done a bunch of remixes) and he has said it has pretty much killed his ability to just enjoy music. He hears everything through the lens of his work. So yeah, sometimes its better to not know how the sausages are made.

Expertise gives one the vocabulary to describe subtle points in a given field.

Unless you expect to be describing subtle points to others I believe that a working knowledge of many fields is better than expertise in any one.

You’re not an expert on Joe Biden sandwich videos.

Maybe you’re not missing anything. Consider this passage from Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi:


Because our brains are inundated with information on a constant basis, we tend to exercise “need to know” when it comes to concentrating on any particular area and in learning any particular thing in depth, otherwise our brains could literally be overwhelmed. To put it in tech terms, our “CPU” becomes “overclocked”.

Add to that the fact that we have detailed information on virtually every subject imaginable at our fingertips. Example: Just yesterday, I had a computer with a user account that had a corrupted profile so, instead of opening up in the user’s profile, it was generating a .TEMP profile every time. Now, I could have taken an online course on the windows registry et al, but I didn’t. Instead, I Googled, “User Profile Keeps Logging in as Temporary”. I had the information I needed and solved the problem withing ten minutes, so there was no need to become an “expert”. I got what I needed to know, and there my interest ended.

I seem to have a reputation as a computer expert at work because I know how to effectively Google for quick answers. I’ll admit, this does take some talent; watching other people use a search engine is like watching them edit a document. They have no idea how to quickly skim results and discount the results that aren’t likely to provide a quick and excellent answer.

I’m at the point that it’s quicker for me to Google MS Office features rather than try to guess which stupid Ribbon panel and icon has the functionality that used to be perfectly clear in the old menu system.

There are times when this point of view works, and times it does not.

In some ways it can be immature, like the person who goes to a fancy restaurant and gets chicken fingers because they love chicken fingers.

In some ways it can save you, like my friend who got into high-end audio, and I always felt there was underlying dissatisfaction when he listened to music, because he was listening for something to improve, and there’s ALWAYS something to improve.

There is something to having a thoughtful preference for the things you like rather than a shallow one. People who are thoughtful about their environment are more interesting companions than those who are not.

I have often thought that the real reason I never pursued a career in writing was that I feared I would come to hate writing if I had to do it for a living.

I think it’s helpful to have at least passing knowledge of things but then there’s diminishing returns in being an “expert”. It’s good to know how to cook stuff but less useful to get into long debates about the only “proper” way to cook something. It’s good to know automotive basics and not drive until your oil light is flashing, but less profitable to debate the merits of different cabin air filters. There’s value in knowing what the parts in your computer are and how they work but less value in troubling yourself over case air flow to get two degree cooler CPU temps.

All these things are worth doing if you want to do them and get satisfaction from the best way to cook something or optimize something. But the user experience for someone 60% of the way there and someone 95% of the way there are probably fairly similar.

I guess I should be glad I never went into porn acting, then.


There’s an old joke about the difference between an expert and a generalist. An expert knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing, and a generalist knows less and less about more and more until they know nothing about everything. I’ve always aimed to be a generalist because, as several people have pointed out, I can google details when I need them. If I have a rough understanding of something, it makes understanding the details much easier.

Buffer overrun is more like it I think.

Anyway, I think that it’s perfectly fine to not be an expert in anything, although I think there’s a lot of utility in being knowledgeable about many things without necessarily being an “expert” in any one of them. Kind of like the 80/20 rule in practice with knowledge about things. Learning that first 80% is the easy part; that last 20% is the tough part and what takes all the time and effort.

I mean, I’m probably not a real expert in any one field, but I’m pretty knowledgeable about a lot of things- beer, wine, spirits, computers, games, gardening, automotive stuff, cooking, baking, etc…

You don’t need to be an expert in anything to enjoy it. But I have found that when you know a little more about something, you appreciate it more. I really like to learn more about several things I like to do, and I find it enriches my experiences. I am not an expert photographer but I learned a lot about it and now, not only do I appreciate other photographers more, I appreciate just looking at things more. Photography (and art in general) is more about how you see the world than making a picture. I could never make a living as a cook but I’ve taken some cooking classes and have a greater appreciation for a really good meal.

You can certainly enjoy all those things without knowing much about them or even why you like them. Ignorance is bliss. But it’s still ignorance. :wink: