Does expertise create hypocrisy?

Have you noticed that the more expertise in a subject/issue people get, the harder is seems it is for them to follow their own advice?

Dave Taylor, blogging expert/speaker/author recently posted an entry on his blog sharing his opinions of the Blog Council announcement. A healthy debate ensued in the comments where several, including me, disagreed with his position. Despite me posting a comment asking Dave for his opinions to the discussion, Dave never showed up.

During this same , I joined in the discussion on B.L. Ochman’s blog the announcement. I disagreed with B.L. without using name calling, profanity, or rudeness. She ended my participation with a virtual pat on the head saying:

Jake – Seems to me you’re the one who’s upset. Have a nice night.

I didn’t think much of this, and this week found myself on her blog again reading a post about social media and the election cycle. She posted an entry about how none of the candidates were effectively using social media marketing, but gave very little context or explanation to this position. I challenged her on it. After some minor feedback on her part, she replied with another dismissive pat on the head:

there u go jake. you’ve written your own blog post and now you can post it in your own blog.

have a great evening.

So I posted a final comment saying, to the effect of, “This is the second time in so many weeks that you’ve been dismissive to my comments. Message received”. It hasn’t been moderated yet, so I emailed to find out if she was going to push it live. She said no. Apparently that message violates her comment policy, that if she wouldn’t allow it in her living room, she won’t allow it on her blog. Apparently if she invites you over to her her house, you don’t want to bring up anything she disagrees with for fear of finding yourself sitting on the curb!

Interestingly, both of Dave and B.L. are consultants who help companies implement blogging strategies. Dave published an “The Insiders Guide to Blogging”, and B.L. wrote “What could your company do with a blog?” These aren’t people who “don’t get it”, in fact quite the opposite. I suspect that they would counsel clients that disagreement is acceptable and participation is crucial.

I fear that success (and thus celebrity or quasi-celebrity) breeds fear and/or protectionism. If you’re supposed to be an expert in a subject and people are disagreeing with you, there may be a fear that your expert status is being put at risk.

So at what point does their own advice get lost in their own efforts? Does expertise naturally lead to a “do what I say, not what I do” situation? What do you think drives someone who’s grown into the position of “expert” to remove themselves from conversations they once welcomed and advocated? Does being well-known equate to a change of direction in order to create “walls of sanity”?

UPDATE: Jeremy coined a great term to sum up this attitude: “Professor 1.0 mindset”. Classic.


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