I do a lot of things that are not in my line of work such as carpentry, plumbing, minor auto repairs, construction, and other such pursuits. As well, I read a lot of book – mostly nonfiction – with the lion’s share being history books.

I maintain a healthy level of humility in my professional pursuits, but I make a point of ensuring that I maintain a higher level of humility about my skills in my non-professional pursuits. I accept that an expert carpenter can do what I do in a fraction of the time and, in most cases, deliver a better product. I consider myself an amateur in this and other hobbies.

I consider myself an amateur historian of the Civil War. I have read hundreds of books on the this war, and various aspects surrounding it. I have not done original research, and I do not possess an encyclopedic knowledge of any particular point of interest. I generally defer to experts in discussions (except where the point of contention is opinion rather than fact).

I find it strange that such a large fraction of society refuses to defer to experts in such items of importance as health or science. I understand that many individuals have been deluded by an organized campaign to undermine public understanding and acceptance of science (see Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway). But it is still hard to fathom how a person who would never go to his plumber cousin to treat a broken bone will seek advice from that plumber cousin on epidemiology.