10 Famous People Mistakenly Cited as Experts

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Celebrities are a big thing in the world, especially in the United States, and enjoy a status almost akin to a sort of royalty. This has led many people to lend to celebrities a false sense of authority, and soon they start considering their favorite entertainer an expert on a subject that the entertainer is, at best, a dedicated hobbyist at.

While some people consider themselves good at knowing the difference, it can get especially tricky because some of these celebrities are scientists themselves, and quite competent — just not at the field that someone is citing them on. Becoming an actual expert at something takes a lot of time, dedication, and mastery — being famous and enjoying doing something or talking about it doesn’t mean you are more qualified to lecture on it than the average person.

10. Bill Nye The Science Guy Is Not A Trained Climate Science Expert

Bill Nye has long been known for his award winning show Bill Nye The Science Guy, and more recently he became very notorious in some circles for his debate with Ken Ham, the founder and creator of both the creation museum and the Ark Encounter attractions. Those who believe in climate change were in one way delighted by the debate, because a scientist was spending time arguing against what they saw as erroneous biblical explanations, but the debate was not really very productive for anyone. Both people talked at each other for the most part and didn’t really find any common ground at all to start from, making it difficult to have a productive conversation.

Part of the problem here was that instead of sending a climate scientist, a television personality was sent to argue with Ken Ham. Now, we aren’t saying that Nye isn’t at least in some way a scientist — he is a mechanical engineer. But mechanical engineering is certainly quite far removed from the field of climate change, and knowing the one certainly doesn’t make him much more knowledgeable about the other than anyone else. Nye vociferously argues against charges like this, stating that he knows enough to make valid observations about how climate change is real. But so do we, and we don’t even have advanced science degrees. Nye, like many celebrities, could use a dose of humility and needs to accept that while he may be very good at explaining scientific concepts, that by no means suddenly makes him an expert at a subject that is not his field.

9. Neil deGrasse Tyson Is Cited As An Expert On Almost Everything Imaginable

Neil deGrasse Tyson is possibly the most memeable scientist who has yet lived — for some time you couldn’t swing a cat picture on the internet without running into yet another Neil deGrasse Tyson meme, and some people believed their enthusiasm for Tyson memes helped kids learn more about science. So that’s certainly a good thing. However, like Bill Nye his main skill when it comes to public interaction is that he is good at explaining simple concepts; however, that doesn’t mean he is an expert at all of those concepts. You don’t just get a degree in science — there are many specialized fields and you cannot expect to be a master of more than one or two.

To his credit, Tyson does not try to say that he is more than he is — he is clear that he is an astrophysicist, and doesn’t claim to have any special reputation or awards among the scientific community when it comes to discoveries as compared to scientists like Stephen Hawking. He is good at astrophysics and explaining basic scientific concepts and he sticks to what he is good at. Unfortunately, the internet tends to get a little out of control over some things. Even though Neil Tyson mania has faded a bit, people still constantly cite him as a certified expert on every scientific concept imaginable — even ones that have no connection whatsoever to astrophysics.

8. George Tsoukalis – Also Known As The “Aliens!” Guy With The Hair On The History Channel

The “History” Channel is a channel that once used to show lots of documentaries and specials about what happened in the past, but has now gone completely off the rails. The History Channel has become a den of madness where conspiracy theorists with half baked ideas go on about anything from lizard people, to Bigfoot, to the pyramids, and manage to somehow connect it all back to “ancient aliens” or even “ancient astronauts.” One of the most famous of the people brought on these shows as a so-called “expert” is a man named George Tsoukalis, known for his crazy hair and his strange obsession that causes him to connect everything to aliens.

Most people assume he is an expert at history of some kind, or at least has a related degree. However, the man actually was a Greek TV personality, who was known for commentating on sports. His degree was in sports media and communication, which means he has absolutely zero credentials when it comes to talking about anything historical or anthropological. The only way he made his way onto the show was because he eventually made his way to the top of an alien conspiracy group, and they were likely starving for guests so he kept coming back. Now, most people assume he is at least some kind of historical expert, though he is anything but.

7. Donald Trump Is Actually Incredibly Terrible At Both Real Estate And Business

Donald Trump is probably currently the most polarizing figure in the entire world — people tend to either love him, or hate him so much they wouldn’t let Trump shine their shoes if he paid them. However, whether you love him or hate him, the main thing he claims to have built his success on is his expertise at business, and an enormous and tremendously successful real estate empire. Many people who haven’t dug too deep may not know, however, that Trump is in all actuality a terrible businessman and an even worse real estate investor.

To start off with, Trump has had to file for bankruptcy in some form or another six times, which certainly doesn’t sound like someone who is great at picking projects, investors or strategic partners. In order to assuage his own ego, he has tried to lie openly in public and claim it was only four, even though it is a matter of very well documented public record. However, the real kicker is that Trump just really isn’t very good at making money. Number crunchers who looked into Trump’s finances realized that he would have made more money over the years if he had just invested his money in low risk, low return investments of various sorts, instead of trying out various real estate ventures. Trump is so bad at actively making money that he would have made more if he had simply put his money in the bank, had a few financial managers put it in low risk stocks, and sat back and played golf for the rest of his life — and yet he has built his reputation on his skills as a financial genius.

6. Being A Celebrity Does Not Make You An Expert At Cooking

Recently, interacting with your favorite celebrity online directly has become so much more commonplace that paparazzi are almost going out of business. This means that people get more access to the celeb, which in some ways can give people who are more on the sane side a healthy dose of reality — they see all the flaws of the celebrity, all of the personality defects, and realize they are not going to get with someone they don’t really know. However, some people fly too close to the sun and totally get burned — they start to become obsessed with this level of interaction and start doing everything they can to feel closer to the celebrity, even copying all of their terrible recipes.

Now, don’t get us wrong. We aren’t saying you can’t be a decent cook or come up with a decent recipe without years of culinary training, but being famous doesn’t make you an expert at cooking or make you a trained chef. BuzzFeed, known for their vapid and mostly soulless content, has been running a series where a staff member tries several different recipes, usually from mostly trained chefs, and then gives the verdict. However, they’ve also been using recipes from a lot of celebrities, which gives a false validation to people who haven’t been trained in that field, and shouldn’t be compared alongside trained chefs. Celebrities like Rihanna, who more than likely don’t know how to make a roux and put mustard and ketchup in mac and cheese, should not even be compared to the cooking skill of, say, Gordon Ramsay.

5. Vani Hari (AKA The Food Babe)

For those who don’t know her, Vani Hari is a woman who started a blog calling herself “The Food Babe” back in 2011, and quickly gained tens of millions of followers. Hari delusionally believed, or at least claimed to believe, that anything that was slightly chemical or processed was definitely poisonous and bad for your body. She even claimed that anything a small child couldn’t pronounce should not be eaten, which — as most reasonable people know — is an absolutely absurd thing to say. However, despite the fact that her claims are complete nonsense, she has gained a following that has led to giants like Subway phasing out perfectly safe ingredients because it was easier to quell the outrage that way and get good PR than argue with customers and explain why they are wrong.

The truth is, Vani Hari has a degree in Computer Science and no certifications whatsoever in the medical field, or even in nutrition. She has no degree or certification in chemistry either, yet claims so much knowledge of chemical interactions and how they work with our bodies. In short, she is known by tens of millions as an expert on a subject for which she has no training at all. However, there is also some reason to believe that Vani Hari is not being an entirely honest human being to begin with. She makes a fair amount of money from affiliate marketing, and many of the products she is making money from selling either directly or through affiliate links, actually have chemicals that she put on her very own “banned” list.

4. Jon Stewart And Stephen Colbert Were Always Nothing More Than Comedians

The Colbert Report is off the air, and without Jon Stewart, The Daily Show has taken on a new vibe, but for some time those shows seemed to rule the airwaves when it came to the younger generation, especially those who were more politically involved. Even those people who didn’t tend to be into politics knew about Stewart and Colbert, and watched them at least on occasion. This led to many young people making the claim, more and more often, that they didn’t even watch the news, they just watched those two comedy shows, and that was their news. Many were actually quite proud of themselves for this habit, as if it made sense to eschew the actual news stations in favor of simply watching a short recap while a comedian makes funny faces and exasperated sighs.

The truth is that while Stewart and Colbert are both very funny and talented individuals, neither was trained as a news anchor, and neither was trained as experts in politics or world events. (Stewart studied psychology in college, while Colbert studied philosophy as an undergrad.) Both of them are entertainers who were often giving their own opinions or own takes on today’s events. For as much as many like to decry talking heads, that is essentially exactly what Stewart and Colbert were, just with a slightly more comedic bent. Now, they had quite a positive impact in that they got a lot of young people thinking about world events and politics and got them involved. However, many of those young people also became confused, and some of them today still don’t understand what is and isn’t a legitimate news source or legitimate news programming — this makes it much easier to convince them that real news is actually fake.

3. Beyonce Gets A Lot Of Credit For Being A Genius Songwriter But She Has A Gigantic Team

Last year, Beyonce lost out at the Grammys to singer/songwriter and independent folk musician Beck. Beck plays 16 instruments and wrote all the songs for his award winning album, but Kanye West, famous for previously getting outraged at Beyonce losing out on an award to Taylor Swift, publicly suggested that Beck should give his award to Beyonce, because she deserved it more. Kanye, and many of Beyonce’s fans, often cite her as an expert at songwriting and an expert on musical theory and style in general, but she really doesn’t have any particular expertise, practice or training that puts her above others when it comes to that subject, much less those in her own industry.

Now, we aren’t saying that Beyonce doesn’t have a great voice, or that she doesn’t work hard, or that she doesn’t contribute creatively to the process of her songwriting, or that she isn’t an extremely skilled dancer. Calm down, #BEYHIVE. We love the Queen, too. However, she doesn’t know how to play any instruments, and she has teams of dozens of people to help her write all of her songs. Of course, we don’t want to be entirely unfair and only single out Beyonce — most of the biggest in the industry such as Taylor Swift or Drake have a huge songwriting team right now; the difference is that they are more open about it. Unfortunately, Beyonce is almost forced to maintain the illusion, as her public image as a demi-goddess of R&B kind of requires her to pretend that she is perfect and did everything on her own. The truth is that Beyonce is not the female Prince, she isn’t a singular genius songwriter, and should not be wrongfully cited as one.

2. Albert Einstein Knew Little About Theology And Cared About It Even Less

Albert Einstein is one of the most misquoted and over quoted people in history. He has at times been quoted as being an ardent believer in God, a staunch atheist, and everything in between. And for some reason, the masses seem to have decided that it is important to figure out where Einstein really fell on that spectrum, as if being able to prove such will somehow start swaying unconvinced people to their side — or perhaps they just want the validation. Regardless, Einstein is one of the most oft quoted figures on the subject of religion and religion philosophy, despite it being something he talked about little and cared about even less.

Einstein was not entirely against religion, but he was not a theologian or a particularly religious man. He believed that if there was some kind of god, he was likely much more removed and aloof, on a more cosmic scale, and didn’t bother himself with the petty affairs of men on such a small scale. However, for the most part Einstein was simply an agnostic who chose not to believe one way or another, as he really did not believe it was important. As far as he was concerned, science could and should be able to do its work without needing to be in conflict with religion at all, which also meant by extension that he felt he had no need to be well versed in the subject of theology.

1. A Collective Group Of Moms (Or The Like) Is Often Seen As More Trustworthy Than Science

The anti-vaccine movement has taken hold in an alarming number of people throughout the United States and some other Western parts of the world, and has health experts worrying that many deadly diseases that were thought beaten could start seeing a serious resurgence. While the anti-vaccine movement started with an erroneous paper by Andrew Wakefield, it really picked up steam due to word of mouth and celebrity mothers like Jenny McCarthy, who insisted that vaccinations had given their baby autism — she later claimed that she and Jim Carrey “cured” the baby of autism by feeding it a gluten-free diet. While scientific consensus has been strongly against this nonsense from the very start, it hasn’t been able to stop it from taking hold with far too much of the general public.

The problem comes down to the way many people evaluate information, and it leads to many parents improperly considering other mothers or parents as experts simply because they happen to also have a child — as if having and taking care of a kid not only makes you an expert at child rearing, it also makes you an expert at everything that could possibly befall them. One mother says her baby has autism because of vaccines, she is just sure of it, and some of her friends, who are perhaps less experienced mothers, start to consider she may be on to something despite scientific consensus saying otherwise, because she is a fellow mom with experience. Other moms can be a great source of knowledge for a young mother looking for advice, but especially with matters of health, their word should not be taken over the word of a trained medical professional.

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5 Comments

  1. Just because someone didn’t go to university just for one field doesn’t mean they don’t know anything about that. It just means they didn’t study it in college. When I was in middle school I read enough books on hitler and world war 2 I probably could have done better in college history than people actually in college.

  2. I feel understand that the author’s comment would veer towards a defense of stating, that the article had a focus on exposing merely the Employee Qualifications (College Degrees or World Renowned Awards) of the above folks and therefore isn’t meant to illustrate anything but that. However these above folks all seem to have tremendous Entrepreneurial Skills which unfortunately just isn’t the same as Go to School Get A Fancy Degree, Rinse/Repeat blah blah. It is said by some of the Wealthiest folks that the Rich have the smartest folks they can find on their team, not that they are the smartest. That in and of itself puts many of the above in a category that doesn’t really make the point of this article relevant whatsoever. I can only assume that the author only knows how to be a good employee.

    Putting folks like Einstein on here, who hasn’t even been alive in the age of Social Media, to try and talk on behalf of his afterlife through the Internet and Social Media doesn’t seem fair to them. Keep to people who can stand up for themselves if your going to knock them.

    • I would argue similarly for Bill Nye sure he doesn’t have a relavent degree but after being s climate change advocate for years he probably has a lot more knowledge about climate change than most of America does. Maybe not quite as much as someone who spent a decade in school learning about it but probably as close as you can get

  3. These “Stars” are the face of good teams. Instead of going after them go after each and every one of their claims and see which ones hold up through academic scrutiny. This article is an easy blanket statement without delving in and seeing if any of what the above folks say is actually true or not.

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