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Everyone’s an expert?

November 2017
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I wrote before about some frustrations among transport professionals who are getting smart-shamed on social media. Everybody seems to be an expert these days. And who can blame people who are quite familiar, aware or knowledgeable about transport and traffic issues, particularly along their commuting routes or where they reside or work. But then what distinguishes an enthusiast from a trained professional? What distinguishes a well-read, observant person from another who has formal training (i.e., one with a professional degree or advanced degree) and work experience? In some cases, it can simply be in terms of how articulate people are. Many engineers and planners are not so articulate (or telegenic) as certain personalities like one so-called road safety enthusiast/motoring journalist or as good a writer as one prominent and progressive landscape architect. Many probably are more into technical writing and that doesn’t translate all too well into something easily understandable or “publishable”. They may also get “lost in translation”, so to speak, should they be interviewed, preferring to sound technical rather than attempt to simplify their explanations a the “pedestrian” level.

A couple of senior transport professionals, one who was in academe but served as a government official before, and another who is a sought after consultant here and abroad, however, are pretty cool about this and just brush off the comments they get from articles where they are cited. They are established and secure about themselves and their current roles as ‘elders’ in the transportation field. They are often invited to congressional or senate hearings about transport and traffic for them to share their wisdom about current issues and proposed solutions. Others are simply not into social media and so are quite insulated from the seeming brouhaha of every other person suddenly becoming transport or traffic experts if not pundits. We all continue with our work, knowing we have a lot to do and hopefully leading to improving transport and traffic in the country.


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