I got a call from a national radio station, they were running a programme about unusual travel destinations and asked would I like to come along to talk about space tourism.
Apparently I was an expert on the subject (their researcher said so).
The truth was I had written only a couple of articles about space travel but, as I had never been on a radio programme before, I thought “What the hell, it will be fun. What’s the worst that can happen?”
Just to be on the safe side I didn’t mention my upcoming radio debut to anyone I knew, including my wife and kids.
“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” – Maurice Switzer
The night before I was due to go out live to the nation I thought I had better read up on the subject as I did not want to sound like an idiot. So I white knuckled it until morning.
I arrived at the radio station at the appointed time, armed only with a sheet of facts and figures, ready to face whatever perils lay ahead of me. In case I was beginning to doubt, they gave me a chest badge saying ‘Space Tourism Expert’.
So it was official, but how did that happen and what did it mean?
Thankfully the show was a great success and my pearls of wisdom were appreciated. The only embarrassing moment was when my sheet of facts (which I had hidden on my lap) slipped under the table and I had to get down on my hands and knees to retrieve it (along with disapproving glances from the studio sound engineer).
As I left the building I made a mental note NOT to add ‘Space Tourism Expert’ to my CV.
Seeking out an expert
When you are looking for a real expert remember that all experts are not equal.
Sadly, there are too many people especially online armed with a little knowledge who call themselves experts, it can be difficult do you tell the difference between the real expert and the hyperbole fuelled snake oil salesman.
I have met many people over the years who thought that as long as they knew more than the client they were the expert.
Is it just knowledge alone? – in which case could any quick reader with a reasonable memory become an overnight expert on any subject (space tourism included)? Is is just a matter of knowing more than your client?
“Knowledge becomes wisdom only after it has been put to practical use.” – Unknown
Knowledge without hands-on experience is just facts, a set of rules, as anyone who has ever tried to work out how to do something from a manual knows.
“Knowledge is realizing that the street is one-way, wisdom is looking both directions anyway”
Or is it wisdom and knowledge, knowledge applied and tested in real time, over time and mistakes learned from?
You can’t be an expert without a deep level of knowledge and experience.
“Nothing ever becomes real ’til it is experienced.” – John Keats