The Problem with Expertise

Currently in Australia there is a 'scandal' involving a professional sports club and the possibility that a sports science 'expert' mislead them into breaking the WADA code last year.

As science delves into more specific areas of sporting performance and improvement, the depth of knowledge into 'smaller' areas increases while the range of different areas also increases.  This is an important and logical consequence of the scientific process, but it means that it is increasingly difficult for a coach, who is generally held ultimately responsible, be be sufficiently knowledgable to challenge experts about all the areas for which he/she is responsible.

Even though this particular issue has been around in Australia for many months, reading this article about the investigations made a connection for me between this problem and the Global Financial Crisis.

From reading about the GFC in books like Michael Lewis's, 'The Big Short', it seems clear that one of the biggest parts of the problem was that the complexity of the financial systems being created made it almost impossible for anyone other than an expert to understand.

The outcome of this is that when the complexity of an issue/situation makes it virtually impossible to completely understand the facts, any decisions then become a matter of trust between the person making them and the person proposing them.  That is, the personal relationship is still essential, and regardless of the efforts of those involved, if someone betrays that trust, all the knowledge and expertise in the world no longer matters.

(Photo Credit)


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