Existential Question: Competence vs. Expertise?

The future survival of modern societies is balanced on a razor’s edge. Those societies that learn to distinguish between competence and expertise are most likely to survive and prosper. It is not clear that most modern societies will make the cut.

Competence is Demonstrated in Real World Outcomes

Objective, Outcome based

  • Does the bridge collapse, or does it hold its rated weight over its rated lifetime?
  • Do most patients survive the surgery with a favorable outcome?
  • Does the airplane fly safely at rated speeds/loads and over the specified range?
  • Is the performance of the device, procedure, object, or engineered ensemble up to specifications?

Expertise is Usually Claimed on the Basis of Credentials

Subjective, Consensual, Not Based on Outcomes

In the modern world, claims of expertise are usually based upon credentials, including university degrees, positions in government, authorship of books or articles, or other relatively subjective foundations of merit.

In government, media, academia, and other fudge factories of society, credential-based expertise is sacrosanct — because it can be fudged and spun till the cows come home. The same is true in law, another fudge factory of modern societies. This is one reason crime rates are rising and quality of life is falling in so many large urban areas with woke prosecutors.

In business, we find examples of expertise-without-competence in the Enron debacle, the subprime collapse of 2008-2009, FTX and several other cryptocurrencies, and in the handling of the Wuhan originated Covid pandemic over most countries of the western world. Whenever expertise is valued over competence, disasters will repeat.

Expertise is largely subjective, as currently used. Competence is objectively visible in the real world.

Ideally Competence and Expertise are Combined

It is best if competence and expertise can be combined in the same person. If not in the same person, then in the same team or the same organization. In mainstream academia, corporate media, and government, expertise is often faked or overstated, and in the absence of demonstrable competence can usually be seen as the pretense that it is. But in persons such as Elon Musk, competence can be demonstrated in his breakaway space launch systems and in some of his improved EV subsystems. This combined with his “wealth on paper” allows him to do things such as take over Twitter and roll back much of the political-social censorship that had plagued the US for over a decade. Musk gained a lot of credibility (expertise valuation) due to his competence in specific areas along with his paper wealth.

Most of Musk’s vocal opponents from inside and outside of Twitter, lacked any demonstrable competence in any field, making any claims of authority or expertise on their part to ring hollow.

Competence: Russia vs. Ukraine

Combined Arms Warfare: Russia vs. Ukraine

Ukraine’s Homespun Defense Industry is Humming

Much of Ukraine’s defense capacity has relocated to places that Russia will not bomb without risking all out war with NATO. Ukraine was always the place where the cleverest technologies were devised and produced, out of all the USSR. Without Ukraine, Russia is lacking the best of what made the USSR intimidating and feared.

Russia’s Existential Dilemma:

Russia is facing a demographic time bomb that will make it harder to wage war and, in the long run, keep its ailing economy going.

Sending waves of young men onto the battlefield, compounded by emigration, will result in tens of thousands of fewer births and hasten an already long-term decline in birth rates.

Alexey Raksha, an independent Russian demographer, says the Russian battlefield casualty numbers may not sound a lot for a country of 145 million people, but he believes the war will leave deep scars on an already fragile economy.

“If there are no soldiers, it means there are no men. No men, no sex. No sex, no children. It’s very simple,” he says. “But we also don’t know what the psychological impact is going to be on these people, which will also cause the number of births to decline.”


In the first few months of 2022, about 4 million Russians left the country. In the last 6 months of the year roughly another million left in response to mobilisation. Prior to 2022, we thought that most of those who could leave, had already left. But clearly, each person in Russia has his own tolerance point that determines whether he finally makes the decision to go.

China will bark loudly

Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, Russia has been ruled by organized criminal forces descended largely from the security forces of the former USSR. The rise of Putin — first in St. Petersburg and then in Moscow — was entirely consistent with this criminal ascent to power of former KGB and other security officials.

Urban Decline in US Parallels National Decline in Russia

The decline of American cities under quasi criminal corrupt and incompetent local governments runs in parallel with the ongoing decline and collapse of the country of Russia. Americans are willing to air the dirty laundry for the world to see. In Russia one must wait for the entire nation to collapse before one can sift through the ruins. In Russia, political connections count above competence. The same is true in many large US cities in rapid decline due to ideological wokeness.

Thanks to Putin’s erratic decision making, that time of reckoning for Russia is drawing closer.

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1 Response to Existential Question: Competence vs. Expertise?

  1. exlib says:

    The corrupt decliners seem to hold most of the power levers, and ALL the cultural control in the USA.

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