Why most experts on social media are not.

The following is a twitter thread from @richienrg showing us why it is so futile (and dangerous) to rely on so-called social media influencers to be your source of expert information.

The average adult with no chess training will beat the average five year old with no chess training 100 games out of 100 under normal conditions.

The average 1600 Elo rated player – who’ll probably be a player with several years of experience – will beat that average adult 100 games out of 100. A top “super” grandmaster will beat that 1600 rated player 100 games out of 100.

The difference between a layman and an expert is astronomical.


This distribution is pretty similar across other domains which require purely mental rather than physical skill, but it’s easy to measure in chess because there’s a very accurate rating system and a record of millions of games to draw on. Here’s what that means.

The top performers in an intellectual domain outperform even an experienced amateur by a similar margin to that with which an average adult would outperform an average five year old.

That experienced amateur might come up with one or two moves which would make the super GM think for a bit, but their chances of winning are effectively zero.

The average person on the street with no training or experience wouldn’t even register as a challenge. To a super Grand Master, there’d be no quantifiable difference between them and an untrained five year old in how easy they are to beat. Their chances are literally zero.

What’s actually being measured by your chess Elo rating is your ability to comprehend a position, take into account the factors which make it favourable to one side or another, and choose a move which best improves your position.

Original thread.

Do that better than someone else on a regular basis, you’ll have a higher rating than them.

So, the ability of someone like Magnus Carlsen, Alexander Grischuk or Hikaru Nakamura to comprehend and intelligently process a chess position surpasses the average adult to a greater extent than that average adult’s ability surpasses that of an average five year old.

It seems likely that the top performers in other intellectual domains will outperform the average adult by a similar margin. And this seems to be borne out by elite performers who I’d classify as the “super grandmasters” of their fields, like, say, Collier in music theory or Ramanujan in mathematics. In their respective domains, their ability to comprehend and intelligently process domain-specific information is, apparently, although less quantifiably than in chess so far beyond the capabilities of even an experienced amateur that their thinking would be pretty much impenetrable to a total novice.

This means that people’s attempts to apply “common sense” – ie untrained thinking – to criticise scientific or historical research or statistical analysis or a mathematical model is like a five year old turning up at their parent’s job and insisting they know how to do it better.

They would not only be wrong, they would be unlikely to even understand the explanation of why they were wrong. And then they would cry, still failing to understand, still believing that they’re right and that the whole adult world must be against them.

You know, like “researchers” on Twitter. That’s where relying on “common sense” gets you. To an actual expert you look like an infant having a tantrum because the world is too complicated for you to understand.

And that, my friends, is why you look ridiculous on Twitter by sharing some nonsense by DrWoke69 claiming things like viruses are fake.

Photo by JESHPhoto by JESHOOTS.COM 

One response to “Why most experts on social media are not.”

  1. The other half of this equation is the Dunning-Kruger effect, where the untrained person wildly overestimates their ability.

    Liked by 2 people

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