In the information age, it is now possible to access many different experts and pundits via the Internet, seminars, and in the literature surrounding the Koi, goldfish and pond fish hobby. As you sift through the information to which you are exposed, it is imperative that you inquire as to the credentials of the person from whom you are receiving advice.
Never hesitate to ask “What Kind of Doctor Are You?”
One of the most outspoken [but ill-informed] Koi, goldfish and pond fish pundits in the hobby employs the title of “doctor” but upon closer examination, this individual only has an advanced degree she earned through the study of the zoonotic diseases of chipmunks (Not made up). Another “doctor” who participates in this hobby and offers very ‘doctorly’ advice has a doctorate in aeronautical engineering. Should this be explained, or should we allow the general public to continue to think this individual is trained [at all, even a little] in the matter in which they are advising you?
Watch Out for “Always” and “Never”
You can also learn to spot the diagnostic key words used by potentially dangerous “over night experts”. Terms like “always” “never” and “will” are the trademarks of folks with very ‘black-and-white’ perspectives. These are usually one-sided, inexperienced perspectives, which can ignore major variables and factors that might have forecasted your outcomes to more closely resemble a “maybe” and “should”. The longer I am in this hobby, the less I realize we really know for sure. I stick to answers like “Yes and no” or “Probably” and as a last resort: “Here’s what might be.”
Watch For an Even Temper, a Sign of Intellect
The professionalism of the expert in question is another element to evaluate. Is this person obscene or profane to others with whom they disagree? Do they engage in slander? Is their advice delivered in a personal attack or are they capable of eloquent discussion? Beware of your association with an authority with such obvious insecurity or low self-esteem.
Ask a Question Slightly Off the Beaten Path
Finally, a word of caution that particularly applies to speakers, I would suggest that some probing questions could verify or disprove the mettle of the authority you are estimating. I have been embarrassed for a few earnest speakers who’ve memorized a presentation that actually went off pretty well, only to have a few good questions knock the chair out from under them.