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How To Be An Expert On Anything

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In the August, 2006 issue of Wired magazine, Stephen Colbert shared his advice for becoming an expert. His advice is reprinted here, most likely in violation of copyright but maybe not cause Wired has some kind of communist copyleft stance on cetrain issues.

The Wired ArticleEdit

Pick A Field That Can't Be VerifiedEdit

Try something like string theory or God's will: "I speak to God. I'm sorry that you can't also." Security experts are in this category: They have security clearances, we don't. We can't question the expertise of the NSA because we are not in the NSA.

Choose A Subject That's Actually SecretEdit

Dan Brown invented a secret subject for The Da Vinci Code, so now he is forever an expert on this secret subject that no one can challenge. Anybody who attacks the secret subject is, by definition, part of the cabal.

Get Your Own Entry In An EncyclopediaEdit

In the media age, everybody was famous for 15 minutes. In the Wikipedia age, everybody can be an expert in five minutes. Special bonus: You can edit your own entry to make yourself seem even smarter.

Use The Word Zeitgeist As Often As PossibleEdit

Ideally, you want to find words that sound familiar but people don't really know their definitions: zeitgeist, bildungsroman, doppelgänger - better yet, anything Latin. But avoid paradigm. It's so 1994. If you say the word paradigm, everybody knows you're a poser.

Be Sure To Use Lots Of Abbreviations And AcronymsEdit

Someone who says the words operations security may be educated, but the person who uses the military abbreviation Opsec is clearly an expert. If I use the term Gitmo, that means I've actually been there. If you say, "We're going to Defcon 1," it means you probably have the launch codes. Real experts don't have time for extra syllables.

Speak From The Balls, Not From The DiaphragmEdit

In the expert game, you've got to have sack. That means speaking with confidence. In America, you've got to steer clear of nuance and ambivalence - and don't even contemplate doubt.

Don't Be Afraid To Make Things UpEdit

Never fear being exposed as a fraud. Experts make things up all the time. They're qualified to.

Don't Limit Yourself To Current KnowledgeEdit

If you worry too much about being up-to-date, you miss out on vast territories of obsolete knowledge just waiting to be reclaimed. Think of leech-craft and all the lonely experts in the use of the little creatures, which are now experiencing a renaissance in health care.

Get An Honorary Ph.DEdit

They work wonders. I have a doctorate in fine arts from Knox College in Illinois. All I did was give a speech, and now everybody has to call me Dr. Colbert.

Make A Habit Of Name-DroppingEdit

Say things like "I was talking to John Hockenberry yesterday for my story in Wired. Have you seen my cover?" I plan to use this issue of Wired to assert that I now know everything about wires.

Be Famous. It Helps.Edit

Conversation Style TipsEdit

Lean back in your chair while drumming your fingers together. This appears thoughtful.
Gaze at the ceiling as if pondering what the other person is saying.
Interrupt frequently and change the subject to imaginary historical events.
End many long blathering monologues with "Q.E.D." or "Etwas So Quo? Nicht wahr?"

See AlsoEdit

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