‘Go ask an expert’ — Are experts real?

A real life experience brought to you by winter storm Inga

By Ashley Bunton - Staff Columnist

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Did you measure the total snowfall accumulation in your neighborhood?

It snowed until sundown Monday, chilling my fingers just thinking of it as I sat at my desk with cabin fever rocking back and forth with a cup of hot cocoa.

After the last of winter storm Inga passed through the region late Monday, one of my neighbors came over and asked if I had a measuring stick. I laughed when I realized that I hadn’t had one since I was a child and got whooped. It’s one less weapon I have in the home.

Instead I used the measuring unit on a multi-tool — when it’s unfolded end to end it measures eight inches — and we measured the snow. We took measurements of seven to 10 inches across the neighborhood with additional accumulation on the ground Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

Another neighbor set out to clear their sidewalk mid-day Monday before the snow stopped accumulating. I decided to wait though, just in case the snow kept piling up and defeated the purpose of clearing it early on. I noticed that the plow trucks came by once Monday evening. I feel like there are two approaches to clearing the snow: working throughout the duration of the snow storm before the snow has stopped, or waiting until the storm has passed, to clear the snow.

After the cabin fever set in I decided to shovel the sidewalk and driveway. My shovel measures about one square foot of snow per load so I ended up shoveling several hundred square feet of snow. One forecast model projected that our region in southern Ohio would receive one to three inches of snow; another forecast predicted 23 inches. I wonder about the weather projections and if the two forecasts could be averaged to create some sort of balance.

Two hundred square feet into shoveling the snow, I thought of the following story.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a journalist was giving a small group presentation at a college for professional writers. This person wrote specifically about things like parachuting into the wilderness and hunting bears in the Arctic, trout fishing in Canada after diving from airplanes, etc., and I said, “Wow, you went to college for journalism and now you know how to do all of that with a four-year degree and everything?”

The journalist said, “Well, I went to college for journalism, but I’m not an expert in what I write about. I just find the experts and go talk to them. You don’t have to be an expert in what you want to write about, you just have to find the experts and go talk to them.”

I thought that was pretty keen advice, since I too aspire to hunt bears in the Arctic someday, but now that the Arctic ice is melting and never coming back, that’s just another millennial dream we can toss out the window.

I was soon working as a journalist and later went to talk to an expert about something I wanted to write about.

I asked an expert mostly procedural questions for the way that a system was designed and integrated. As we toured the large building, the expert asked me why I wanted to write what I was writing. I said that it was important and interesting, and although I didn’t know much about it firsthand, I was looking for an expert to explain more details of what it was that I was writing about.

Turning halfway to look me in the eyes, the person stopped walking and said, “Look, I am no expert. You may think I am an expert, but quite frankly, nobody is really an expert in anything. You might have people who think they know more, or have more experience in doing something, but just because they have more experience in doing something does not mean that they are an expert. If anybody ever tries to tell you that they are an expert in something, they’re an idiot. I don’t care what anybody tells you about experts: there are no experts in this world and people who say that they are experts have no clue how life works.

“Now, if you still want to talk about what I know as someone who is already involved with this project, I am happy to walk you through it from my perspective. And don’t put that on the record in your report on this — that I said people are idiots if they think they’re an expert in anything — but that’s something to consider.”

The end.

As the wind blew and snow drifted over into the spots I had already shoveled, I considered the two perspectives defining experts. On one hand, there’s an expert for anything, and on the other hand, there are no experts.

There is no balance between the two perspectives that ought to be achieved. I believe there is no such thing as work/life balance, we all just do our best to move forward as one whole being. There are people who know nothing, there are people who know something, and there are people who know more than most. There is no snow, there is snow predicted, and then there is snow.

And maybe that’s what winter storm Inga was trying to teach me: “The cabin fever, sweaty, is reminding you that there is no such thing as balance. No matter how much you think you know, just look at the weather forecasts for snow and let yourself be reminded that no one is an expert.”

Thanks for the reminder, Inga! I think I’ll go ahead and pick up measuring sticks from the hardware store and start a rogue winter weather forecasters club with my neighbors. To predict the weather we’ll probably use dowsing rods.

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A real life experience brought to you by winter storm Inga

By Ashley Bunton

Staff Columnist

Contact Ashley by email at abunton@aimmediamidwest.com, by phone at (740) 313-0355, or connect on Twitter by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton and sending a message.

Contact Ashley by email at abunton@aimmediamidwest.com, by phone at (740) 313-0355, or connect on Twitter by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton and sending a message.