I spent the first decade of my professional career working as an advertising executive. People loved giving me suggestions for future ads or asking why pharmaceutical commercials involved people running in fields while a soothing voiceover announced scary side effects. At no time did I ever encounter anyone actively trying to do my job. When I decided to pursue becoming a dietitian, I noticed one shocking and disturbing fact: I was hustling for years going to school full-time, taking the proper route toward becoming a credentialed Registered Dietitian, yet there were people who had never taken a single nutrition course touting themselves as “Wellness Professionals” doling out nutrition advice all across cyberspace. The hardest pill to swallow is that people actually listened to them!
Last week, at the Today’s Dietitian Spring Symposium, Dr. David Katz gave the keynote address in which he mentioned a 2014 article titled “The Death of Expertise” (The Federalist, 01/17/14). The idea sounded so much in line with one of my biggest fears as a nutrition scientist, I couldn’t wait to read it.
The author, Tom Nichols, writes:
“I fear we are witnessing the ‘death of expertise’: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers—in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all.”