I’m sure we’ve all talked to ‘experts’ at one time or another. Note that I used quotation marks when identifying the latter experts. There are experts and then there are experts. The difference between the two is like regular Coke and diet Coke.
I’ve had my share of being around these ‘experts’ and it’s during those times that I find myself tested not to go off on them. You know who I’m talking about, it’s these mental morons who once they find out what you do or have experience in, they seem to know all about it.
Recently, I was honored to be in the presence of a couple of these ‘experts’ who, wonder of all wonders, knew more about a subject that I’ve been training, teaching and studying for years.
Yes, that’s right sports fans, these mental midget’s actually claimed to be experts in the field of outdoor survival and disaster mitigation. Just to be clear, both of those fields have a lot of knowledgeable people in them with years if not decades of experience under their belt but very few will claim to be experts as there is always something new to learn or be qualified/certified in.
What I’m getting at is no one in either of those fields can be considered an expert. Here’s the problem; in outdoor survival, you may be extremely well versed in your immediate region. But, what if you were on vacation in say Central America or the Caribbean? If all your knowledge is based on your home region, what do you know about the area you’re in for vacation? Are you still a survival expert? No, not in the region you’re in at the moment. Sure, you might be able to apply some of your skills but certainly not all of them. Remember the old adage about moss growing only the North side of the tree? I live in an area where the fucking moss encircles the trunk of the tree.
How’s that do me any good? It doesn’t and it certainly won’t apply in Central America or the Caribbean.
There are very few global survival instructors out there and most of them are actively in the military or prior service. There’s a reason for that. The US military has installations all over the world and these instructors are usually shipped to those locations at one time or another during their term of service. The reason for that is to learn that region so they can then instruct other service members on surviving in that region.
Case in point, way back in the day, back when there was a Jungle Warfare Testing Center in the beautiful yet humid country of Panama, this little boy was sent there to learn how to survive and was taught by some of the most incredible instructors I have ever met. Without them I would have never learned the ‘Panama’ method of splitting wood or how to make mosquitoes stay away among other things.
So getting back to the crux of this post, the alleged experts that I was recently introduced to. A little background on them, one, a senior citizen who has claimed in the past that he was a ‘snake-eater’ and a sniper during the Vietnam conflict yet can’t remember what kind of rifle he used ‘back in the day’, claimed to know some high-speed survival skills and wanted to be part of one of my classes. I told him, ‘sure, come along, we can always use another student’. How silly of me to have overlooked this vast knowledge base that he had to contain what with all his years of experience in the Marines as a sniper and his time spent in the jungles of the world.
That’s #1 in the hit parade.
Number 2, well, this guy’s a real piece of work. This guy is a civil service employee that I ran into a few months back during lunch and we sat together and talked while eating. I had the privilege of his company just the other day at lunch. (Note to self, start brown bagging it or find someplace else to have your meals, maybe Outer Mongolia.) Lunch had just barely started and all of sudden this guy is expelling gratuitous information about his military background like a laxative induced bowel movement. We barely got past the basic introduction stage and he’s telling me shit like I’m a priest in a confessional and he’s the town pump. I’m regaled by tales of how he was a left-handed sniper in the Marines during the last years of Vietnam and how his rifle was custom-made and a .50 caliber. How he was involved in a super secret behind the lines POW rescue mission that took place in 1975 in Vietnam. For those of us with some knowledge of military history, we know that from about ‘73 onward, there a major scaling down of US troops in Vietnam and there was only one major POW rescue op during the entire conflict, the Son Tay Raid. He too wanted to be part of my outdoor classes and claimed to know survival skills that no one had ever used before.
I’m thinking that assholes must gravitate my way, maybe I’m like an asshole black hole, sucking them towards me.
Now on to Number 3.
This one is a real winner. She’s new to the IT department and had to do some shit to my work PC that was only going to take a few minutes. Or so she stated upon entering my sanctum supreme. I’m sitting there, trying not to fall asleep as she explains some shit about updating thingamabob doohickie to do something like turn on the Christmas lights at Buckingham Palace or some shit like that when she notices the little certificate on my wall showing that I successfully completed a FEMA sponsored emergency management class.
Let the good times roll.
From that point on it was non-stop about how she had taken the exact same course only a few years prior, how she had so much fun working with other emergency managers and had done this and done that and blah, blah, blah someone hand me a weapon because I truly wanted to go postal on this bitch.
I have never once claimed to be an expert in any field I endeavor to undertake and quickly correct those that introduce me as such while these 3 ass bandits claimed to be just that.
Moron #1 wanted to become an instructor at the classes I teach on outdoor survival and was going to bring along his 9v battery and steel wool to teach the students how start a fire. Yeah, that’s a good thing to know. If you had those 2 items in your back pack. Unlikely, as there is no real use for steel wool while out camping or hiking unless you use it to clean your pots and pans. Considering the weight and space that pots and pans take up, unlikely you’d have any. The 9v battery is not in any electronic device that is normally carried by a camper or hiker. Therefore, those 2 items are not mission essential in the outdoors. Maybe in an urban survival situation but definitely not in the wild. There are better ways to start a fire in the wild, and ones that don’t send hot pieces of steel wool at you.
Moron #2 and his never before revealed survival skills. That’s the thing with outdoor survival; the methods taught are those that have been used over and over again, tried and true methods that are proven to work. If someone comes up with a new method for whatever, most of the more experienced instructors will test those methods endlessly to make sure they work and do that testing under all kinds of conditions. If it doesn’t work, you dissect it to find out what went wrong or you totally shit can it and start back at Square One. Usually, it’s one of the more experienced instructors that develop the idea, not someone who read about or saw it in a movie. (We all know how realistic TV and movies are.)
Moron #3. What can I say? We all know people like this person; they’re the ones that will talk an arm off a chair once they get you cornered. These are the ‘know-it-all’ experts we’ve all come to love and enjoy. They’re also the people who you’d love to throw into a real-world bad situation and then tell them, ‘Hey fucktard, you’re the expert. Get yourself out this one. I’ll see you back at camp when you do.’ This is where practical knowledge comes in not just the knowledge you’ve read from a book.
As you can see there are experts and then there are experts.
If you really want to do something constructive, take a basic life saving class and/or CPR at your local Red Cross or fire department, have a Go-bag for emergencies and learn the basics of being prepared. Don’t leave it up to someone else or you could end up with someone like I described above.