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November 11, 2007

When to Trust an Expert

I was reading a Times Magazine Article about the relationship between doctors and their patients in the information age. It's a story about a doctor who encounters a patient who has done so much research on her ailment and the doctor himself that she is getting in the way of the treatment. Its a really good read, so take a look at it. But it got me thinking, that as a technician, I deal with the same thing on almost a daily basis. I assume most people in a professional environment come across similar people.

The question I have always asked is, "if you are just going to argue with me, why did you ask to begin with?" I understand that you have done your research and think you are correct, and hey you might be, but lets think about what is happening.

You have a computer problem, so you looked up the symptoms of the problem online. You found a problem that matches all the symptoms. Now you give me all the symptoms and I tell you it is something different is the problem. What causes the difference in our diagnoses? The answer is easy.

You are armed with raw data. You know what could be the problem, but in reality have never experienced the problem and have no idea how to fix it (because if you did, you wouldn't be asking me). I have the data AND the experience to apply that data to a real life situation. I have seen these symptoms and know how to differentiate the symptoms that are causing the problems and the ones that are the effect of the problem. Its a big difference.

Maybe people are so used to getting screwed over that they feel they need to do the research. I encourage people to do research, but you have to understand that there is a difference between spending an hour online looking up a problem, and fixing computers for years. You don't need to prove to me that you know a lot about computers, becasue it comes down to 2 things. Either you know what the problem is, or you don't. If it is the first case, we wouldn't be talking becasue you would fix it. So its the second. In which case, give me the info you collected, if I agree with it, thats awesome Ill probably charge you less to do the fix. If I don't agree with it and I think it's something else don't argue with me. Either accept it or take your equipment somewhere else.

It has gotten to the point where people have argued with me, so I challenge them. Ill say "fine, Ill fix the problem you are saying it is, if its wrong I will fix it my way, but you have to pay double. If your way is right, ill only charge you half" I have never only charged somone half for work in one of these instances. And only 2 people have ever taken the challenge, they both paid double.

The point is: Do your research, but realize experience and knowledge is worth more than just knowledge alone.

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