E001 - The Problem with Experts, Specialists, and Enthusiasts

Welcome to the first episode of Across The Peak Ladies and Gents! The show that couldn't contain its own awesomeness to a single topic so we've decided to make a show that generalizes about everything. You're welcome America.


On Experts, Enthusiasts, and Specialists

Let's get this out of the way, just because we decided to generalize with Across The Peak doesn't mean that the world suddenly doesn't need experts. The truth is that the world needs specialists, experts, enthusiasts and even Sommeliers. 


Experts, specialists and enthusiasts; whatever you wanna call them, are the definitive resource. When I fielded a question on my other podcast about first aid for a traumatic small bowel evisceration injury I didn't guess about it, I went to my friend Dr Dan. Dan is a physician in a busy emergency room and he was kind enough to write a paper on the subject for me. Dan is 'the' expert on the subject. I felt that the gravity of the topic was such that I couldn't just guess about it. I mean, I had been taught in the Marine Corps how to treat these types of wounds, but the information was probably dated. The answer I was going to give, had to be the correct one. Thus, I chose to pursue the thoughts of an expert because Dan has treated these types of injuries and thought about them in ways that I can't imagine. He has the training, experience and board certifications to do this work and get paid a lot of money to do it. I do not. 

1. It's not work to enthusiasts, it's their hobby and Their obsession

Self defense and privacy aren't everyone's hobbies, and it takes effort for normal people to do these things. It's easy for enthusiasts to forget that not everyone is into their niche. Because of this, enthusiasts often have unrealistic expectations of others. 
- The Self-Defense expert: You should carry three Glock handguns, two Spyderco knives, and a broken down Wilson Combat AR-15 in an old tennis racket bag. 
- The Financial expert: You should eat peanut butter and jelly, drive an old Honda, and save 95% of your net annual income.
- The Privacy expert: Thou shalt not taketh thy iPhone into thine own house, for I the LORD thy God saith unto thee, 'Fear not; for I will protect thee from thine internet.' 


None of these are realistic for anyone who is not a fellow enthusiast. Feel me? 

2. Specialists can't give short answers

Nuance is good, Justin and I love nuance. You know who else loves nuance, Specialists. But sometimes the person asking the question doesn't want nuance, they just needs a damn answer! Justin will often get jammed up on this when people ask, "How do I become more private?" Instead of giving them five steps they can take that would definitely help them, he will get sucked into a feedback loop and end up not telling them anything. 

3. The Curse of Knowledge

Experts often assume that everyone has a baseline level of knowledge. If I start talking about pistols I assume everyone knows the major differences between a 1911 and a Glock 19. Most people do not.

So what is Across the peak?


We are generalists. We don't live in a vacuum where we can just focus on one thing. And the world doesn't work that way. In a given day anyone of us might have to jump on a computer, start a chainsaw, drive a car, cook a meal etc. All of these things require some skill, but none of them require you to be an expert. Being a generalist is help you become:
- Well-rounded
- More resilient
- Flexible and adaptable

Book of the Week

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature by Steven Pinker

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Ralph Brown