What even is an expert?

The most interesting reading for me this week was “Do These Earrings Make Me Look Dumb?” by Forbes. It brought up a lot of interesting points, but one main thing that stood out to me is how someone with personal experience may not be considered an expert in that field. Forbes is a scientist and spent a lot of time working with ladybugs, so in no way would those credentials make her an expert in any field outside of hers. But she has personal experience that no one can ever learn from a book or research and gain as much knowledge and depth in this topic as Forbes could. Forbes also portrayed that she has read the theory and things in the academia about this topic don’t exactly match up with what she has gone through and felt during her experience. But who is to say Forbes is an expert or not. Any one with connections to her experience would much rather relate to her personal story than a “theory” that tries to explain everything for how it is, black and white, when it may not be.


My favorite line of this piece is “The issue is that in creating a category, we are designating all members of the category as equivalent. “ She started talking about this relating to her field in ecology, specifically talking about trees. But I think that line is so powerful because by categorizing and labeling people into certain categories, it is assumed that those people are identical. It makes people think that every single trans woman (because they are labeled a trans woman) is the same. But not one person has the same story, same experience, and same feelings, which is not true! Everyone experiences everything different, and by having a category with one label on it, and “expert theories” out there telling everyone what there is to know about that, people not in this category will assume that it is the same for every person. But by coming from someone like Forbes, who has her own experience, isn’t preaching how everything is but instead telling her experience that can be relatable to most, not all, and more than anything can be a comfort knowing someone else out there has done, feel, and experienced what she has.


2 thoughts on “What even is an expert?

  1. I really like the quote you extracted from the reading. I agree with you 100% that even though some people are classified to be in the same ‘category’ it does not make them equal. Personally I believe that every single person, no matter how similar some people may be, are different in some possible way. Everyone has something special and different about them, it’s what makes them, well them. It amazes me how some people can be so close minded and blind to see that everyone has something different/special about them. Everyone sees life through their eyes differently, so as Forbes writes about how personal experiences may not be enough, it’s almost as if people don’t want to accept different.


  2. I strongly agree that everyone has their own story and every one goes through different experiences. I do not know what makes someone an expert in a topic but I believe that having gone through a situation personally gives a person some level of expertise. During class we were talking about how someone can study for years, interview hundreds of different people, do extensive research, and they still would not know everything. That is not to say that someone who has one experience knows exactly what another person is feeling but if you go through something I feel like you can be more understanding to someone who has gone through the same or similar situation. Today during class when we broke into groups my group was talking about how Laverne Cox obviously does not encompass every single black trans woman’s’ experiences but she has become a role model and she speaks up about trans rights even though she has no academic credentials.


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