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Reading to Become an Expert

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I came across this thread yesterday. After reading it I found this


Then I came across this post Reading it reminded me of George W. Elliot and the Five-Foot Shelf book series. GW said in speeches that one could give themselves a liberal education just by reading from a series of books  just 15 min a day.


Another thing that came to mind is the 3 book rule. I have done this for years especially in college.  

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Anybody who claims "Read 10 books on a topic and you will be a subject matter expert." (your last link) has no idea what subject expertise entails.


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This is interesting...  I tend to agree with the estimate that three books will get you to 95%.  I can use myself as a real life example to illustrate.  I just happened to read three books on the exact same topic- building aerobic base in running.  I'm willing to bet I now know more than 95 out of every 100 random people on the topic, maybe even  95 out of every 100 runners.  


I would argue it's not very hard to know more on a topic than 95% of the population, simply because there are SO MANY topics- an infinite number really- for people to become personally interested and invested in... what are the chances you bump into someone with the exact same interest?  


BUT:  I do tend to agree that even if I read 7 more books, I would not be a subject matter expert.  BOOKS, generally, are entry-level material.  Subject matter experts are reading research articles and doing their own research.  For my above mentioned topic, I would either need to have coached a few hundred athletes or so, or worked multiple years in a exercise-physiology lab to move into subject matter expert.  The best I could do from books is know enough to ask subject matter experts semi-intelligent questions and hopefully understand their answers.  :-D  









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When you can write a book about a subject and explain it to other people, then you're a subject matter expert. Isn't this the point of narration?


I think fitness is a good example of something a person can become fairly knowledgeable about just by reading (nutrition is another one of these things) because as we read we apply it to our lives and relate it to our own experiences. We make those connections. We talk about what we're learning to other people. We also already bring enough background knowledge to it to be able to grasp enough vocabulary not to me totally stumped-- I know what muscles are, and legs are, so it's easy for me to remember the quadriceps and the hamstrings, the gluteus maximus and minimus, etc.


Reading is valuable, but watching lectures-- in person or on the screen-- is another mode of learning that is ubiquitous, easy, and can often augment books. But ultimately, nothing replaces a conversation with another person, and that's one thing I hope I can emphasize to my kids-- I always thought if you were smart, you could figure out everything by turning to books, but being able to discuss things and ask questions is so essential to understanding-- you have to be able to comprehend a lot to ask questions.


(In high school, I used to read books aloud in French because I liked speaking French and practicing my accent. I didn't understand 50% of what I'm reading and am no more an expert in French literature than if I had spent the time sleeping with a cassette player under my pillow.)

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It depends on the field,  DH studied machine learning in the 90s before it became a thing.  There was nothing to read on the subject.  He was so early, his paper for a long while was the most cited in the subject.  He became an expert not by reading but by publishing his own research.  



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