Difference between expertise and opinion

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Forum topic by MrRon posted 08-21-2013 06:27 PM 1356 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3891 posts in 2663 days

08-21-2013 06:27 PM

On these and other woodworking forums; when we ask questions and present answers, the answer will generally differ from one individual to the next. Opinions are what mostly comprise these answers. Opinions are based on personal experience and although very useful, they are never the complete answer.

Woodworkers and I would include metalworkers, come from people from varying backgrounds. Someone who is an engineer will respond based on his/her engineering background to someone from a medical, legal or office background The reverse would also be true. When someone (from a recent example) asks a question about using PVC pipe for compressed air, the topic is flooded by answers. Most of those answers are personal opinions, so we evaluate them. We never come out with a clear cut answer. When someone answers who has a strong expertise in the topic, this answer cuts to the chase and negates any and all opinions. That person becomes the resident expert on that particular topic, unless a newer “expert” comes onto the scene.

Another example is where a person from an industrial/manufacturing setting is in the same room with someone from an office setting. Their views will be based on their understanding of the topic and their responses will reflect that. Quoting standards, specifications or scientific data may be meaningful to an engineer, but will fly over the head of the office worker. I am from an engineering and heavy industrial background, so my response to a question will reflect that background. I am most certainly not an expert, but My response will surely be different from someone elses. An automotive mechanic may be an expert on working on cars, but the compressed air system he is using may not be within his expertise.

We all have different interests. Because of my background, my interests are technical. To another, my interests would not be of interest to them.

19 replies so far

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Rick M.

7697 posts in 1799 days

#1 posted 08-21-2013 06:36 PM

A lot of people can be well meaning but really not know what they are talking about especially with technical questions, in the end it makes for a lot of noise that can confuse the person asking the question.

When it comes to techniques, there is often more than one right way of doing things.


View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3068 days

#2 posted 08-21-2013 06:45 PM

while many of the responses could be opinion with little experience to back them up – many of those are by people that already did the research once or twice before, and came to certain conclusions so still carry great value. maybe things have changed since, or maybe their perspective differs with the OP – and for that they remain comments to add to the ‘whole’. at the end of the day it is up to the OP or whomever reads the entire thread to form their own opinion and decide of all the comments – what makes more sense TO THEM and what will work better FOR THEM – as after all, there are always more than one method for accomplish the same thing. the more comments you get, the more solid your end decision should be and less “I missed that” later on…

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View CharlesA's profile


2973 posts in 1217 days

#3 posted 08-21-2013 06:50 PM

My expertise consists solely of opinions.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Belg1960's profile


966 posts in 2485 days

#4 posted 08-21-2013 06:51 PM

I have often thought about the fact that when I ask a question who’s info and “facts” do I believe. I try to weigh everything with a grain of salt and hope that there are several people who I trust answer my question in a similar manner. Do a little Googling and come up with a consensus of the facts. Can’t wait to hear some more opinions on this subject. Pat

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2104 days

#5 posted 08-21-2013 07:36 PM

A syndicated radio host used to claim that he was only an expert on his own opinion (I’m in that camp). On this site you have a wide range of people with a wide range of experience and a wide range of available tools. IMHO people looking for “experts” should be willing to pay for advice. In that regard, I’ll say that anybody can claim “expert” status by virtue of any number of criteria (education, years in a trade that doesn’t always equate with how good the work was, etc.).

Case in point…my elderly in-laws recently goofed and bought a very expensive ($100k+) motor home. As they prepared to sell it 2 years later, they took me through all the problems they had with it even trying to perform routine tasks like adding diesel fuel additive. It was obvious to me that the “experts” had never been in one of their products.

View REO's profile


883 posts in 1493 days

#6 posted 08-21-2013 08:19 PM

OH….sorry fell out of my chair…. ROFL. I have to second purplev. I also have to add that there are those with a doctorate degree that I don’t have time to listen to their opinion even on a subject they are papered to understand. Conversely there are those who just have a knack for understanding that I will weigh very heavily.

From what I can gather by reading the post you have referenced here is that you started with a statement and wanted the rest of the world to overwhelmingly concur. Your “research” consisted of only one referenced contact with a supplier not the manufacturer. the supplier sells plumbing products for hydronic systems and therefore following the logic you wish for us to adopt in this post has no bearing on the products use in air distribution. even the person you refer to as having expertise on the subject had nothing to say directly regarding PEX. Even after referring to his expertise on the subject you didn’t use their system. to be technical with you you state toward the end of your other thread that if we read the above we will find that it is not approved for compressed air. I can find nowhere that that was said about PEX. One cannot draw that conclusion from the facts given in the thread. One can find where PVC is not approved for air. one can find a statement from a plumbing supplier that says THEY do not RECOMMEND its use for air.
Hail the new “expert with expertise” in air lines for your shop.

View jumbojack's profile


1663 posts in 2043 days

#7 posted 08-21-2013 08:50 PM

I am with Belg1960, he stated my exact thoughts.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View mbs's profile


1601 posts in 2359 days

#8 posted 08-21-2013 08:57 PM

Well said Mr.Ron.

I’m an engineer too but sometimes questions don’t have a black and white answer. In truth, there are likely few things in a home shop environment that are truly tested to determine causal relationships. It’s much more likely that we learned from the person who taught us who may not have had much of a background in the topic. Or we extrapolate what we learn from regulations like OSHA which may be overkill for a home shop environment.

Your PVC airline is something I would like to see tested because I don’t know the conditions in which it operates safely. There are enough people that have used it safely thus far to make me curious about it. The discussion is similar to the PVC vs metal dust collection system. I am running PVC ducting. From an engineering perspective I can envision a heavy concentration of dust exploding in a duct but I don’t see that my shop creates a situation that would allow the concentration to be that high. I sleep well at night because I’ve never heard of a fire in a pvc system and I have done quite a bit of searching.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View Wildwood's profile


1850 posts in 1554 days

#9 posted 08-21-2013 09:27 PM

How can you expect expert answers to questions posted on a message board? Most experts in their chosen profession cannot agree on best options most of the time.

Honest people offering their opinions based upon personal experiences about as good as it gets! I have learned a lot from too many folks to count or name.

-- Bill

View knotscott's profile


7145 posts in 2795 days

#10 posted 08-21-2013 09:39 PM

Interesting point Mr. Ron. IMHO, good advice is good advice….expert or a novice. I often find that the best advice is that which is tailored to the original poster’s circumstances, and based on some experience with the subject matter. I think far too many folks think that what’s best for them and their situation is best for everyone….ie: I love it, therefore you will too!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View RobsonValley's profile


26 posts in 1183 days

#11 posted 08-21-2013 09:57 PM

If you need differences in opinion based on experience, get into a serious wood carving website forum and ask a question about carving tools. Some can’t describe anything beyond a detail knife and a Kevlar glove.
You really need beer & popcorn to watch. Others, like me, use whatever works.

Best of all, get in there and ask a question about “carving sharp” = how to maintain wood carving gouges.
Opinions and advice abound! All it shows me is that there are half a dozen methonds to get it done. They all work well, when you learn what to do. That’s a good thing. The diversity of my carving tools left me no choice but to use several different methods. To sustain any pleasure at all in carving, I have had to become very good at keeping tools carving sharp.
Now, it is sunny. I have a chunk, 3” x 12” x 72”, strapped to the bench outside. Must get ready for winter’s carving season.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 1706 days

#12 posted 08-21-2013 10:05 PM

For some stuff I have either limited information or old information (maybe haven’t kept up with new stuff in a certain area).... like finishes. On a lot of the “what finish should I>>>?” or “what went wrong with my finish?” posts, I sit back and wait to hear from someone like Charles Neil :)

One post recently asked about finishing a walnut counter top in a kitchen with Waterlox. DING! I just did that last year. Put a lot of time into deciding which finish to use and then how to best apply it. So I jumped on that one… even though it WAS a finishing question. :)

Other things I have experience AND a passion for… like cutting boards. Not just building them, but building them for someone who USES them a lot. On that subject I have experience and practical, first-hand knowledge to back up my “opinion”.

But lets face it… for a whole lot of what we do, there are several ways to skin the cat, so opinions are are what you get. Hell, you get opinions even from experts. Woodworking is as much an art as a skill. I listen and pay attention when I know someone has experience. A lot of guys been doing this at a serious level for longer than me. :)

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 1492 days

#13 posted 08-21-2013 11:51 PM

IMO I have found the experts often frame their comments as opinions…. Often starting with IMO :) if it is a really important fact it often starts with IMHO…

The opinionated often frame their comments as statements of fact..(I have done both)

I don’t mind comments from people that have never done it….. when they include links.. it is like a good google shortcut… and I definitely like comments that are IMHO look “here”. Especially from A1jim.. he is an excellent researcher.

And I also like good discussion from people that have strong opinions that are wrong, it can be entertaining, and funny…. but also tends to bring out a couple of IMHO’s and links that are good.. if you look closely for them….

+1 the collective thread is more important than one comment, most of the time.

+1000 the expertise and opinions here are free… for real expertise, pay for it, and have it in writing.

(eg. if you get a licensed plumber or air system expert to install it, and it fails, sue him/her and the state that licensed him/her)

FWIW it doesn’t matter if you have pvc in the shop as long as there is a sawstop saw there to save you right ;) (hehe)

-- Who is John Galt?

View RussellAP's profile


3059 posts in 1706 days

#14 posted 08-22-2013 12:00 AM

Getting advise on some methods can get you a very good response from one of the pro’s here, but it’s not always going to help you out if you don’t have the right tool, or lack the experience to do it their way.

Some of the best idea’s I’ve ever gotten on LJ’s comes from people who don’t always use conventional methods to get the job done.

It’s good to get all kinds of advise. All of us are at different levels of craftsmanship and the pro’s are certainly a great resource for us all, but sometimes I like to reinvent the wheel. It’s no less of a great idea or invention just because it’s been thought of before, rediscover things.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View papadan's profile


1166 posts in 2788 days

#15 posted 08-22-2013 12:07 AM

In my opinion, I am an expert in most fields because of my degree from the school of hard knocks!

-- Carpenter assembles with hands, Designer builds with brains, Artist creates with heart!

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