by Todd Walker
[Edited 12/7/2014: After re-reading this post, and especially Blue’s comment, I realized that I may have come across as bashing ultracrepidarians. My intention was to motivate all who happen to stumble upon this post to start Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance and let the drama die. We all have to start somewhere.]
Wow! This is my new favorite word!
Ultracrepidarian – Pronunciation: êl-trê-kre-pê-der-i-yên
1. [Adjective] Is the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge, experience, or expertise.
2. [Noun] Someone who talks about things of which they know little or nothing.
To hear this fancy word pronounced audibly, click here. Synonyms include:
- know it all
- smarty pants
In matters of survival and self-reliance, you don’t have to look far to find keyboard commandos telling you how-to do stuff. In the world of survival, spewing advice with little to no knowledge, much less actual experience, is becoming epidemic. The imagery of Brad Pasley’s song/video Online comes to mind.
You’ll find this patch pompously displayed on Ultracrepidarian’s jacket sleeves as they talk down to you from their computer lair…
Who you choose to listen to is your choice. However, advice of self-proclaimed ‘experts’ is at times just plain stupid – and if practiced, could be deadly. So who should you listen to?
Trade Theory for Action
Knowing stuff is part of our educational journey to self-reliance and preparedness. Gain as much knowledge through books and/or other instructional materials as possible.
But here’s the catch…
Having knowledge in your head from a book or video will never be enough for some situations. Experience in the real world is 100 times more valuable than head knowledge. You’ve read articles or online discussions before that didn’t feel right in your gut. Then you realize it’s pure theory.
So how do we gain experience?
Answer: By Doing the Stuff.
It’s that simple. Learning through experience is the hard way. How will you know if you can start a fire in the rain or wet conditions until you test your fire craft skills and find the satisfaction and warmth of doing so. That may be why some choose knowledge over actual experience. It’s much easier to know about stuff than to actually do the stuff.
Three examples of Ultracrepidarian advice below are widely accepted as “normal” in a survival situation… but may end up killing you. Being dead is anti-survival.
A.) Wild Edibles
Survival students deem wildcrafting as a top skill to learn. So we go out and buy popular field guides which are basically regurgitated info from books written by original authors in the early to mid 20th century. “Facts” get twisted when field experience is lacking and publishing houses get involved.
Samuel Thayer, author of The Forager’s Harvest (which I highly recommend), points out many mistakes of the most popular wild edible field guides lining bookstore shelves today. The authors were observing and not doing the stuff in the field. They failed to verify through experience.
Remember, you can eat anything once.
Here’s an interesting take on eating (or not) during a short-term emergency event over at Master Woodsman.
B.) Bugging Out
Another area of Ultracrepidarianism buoyed by opinion is found in the idea of bugging out. Bug out bags or 72 hour kits have their place. And it’s usually not on your back. Let’s put to rest the romanticized notion of throwing a 70 pound bag on your back and humping it across 4 states. With a reliable means of conveyance, good fitness level, skill, and luck… maybe.
Sound advice in such an event would be to have a pre-planned, well stocked location as your destination and a way to get there. If you don’t, you’ll likely become a refugee. Here I am giving my opinion on something I’ve never had to do. However, two years ago I tested a 40 pound backpack on summer hikes. It’s physically demanding. Add survival stressors or young children to the equation and you’re cooking a horrible recipe. Just some food for thought.
C.) Bombproof Gear
The internet is full of untested shiny objects heralded as essential by Ultracrepidarians. Ignore this junk. Stick with basic gear that has been proven over time to work.
How’s a 5,000 year old test for you?
Otzi the Ice Man was discovered by hikers in the Swiss Alps in 1991. Otzi’s preserved remains show he lived around 3,300 BC. His core gear is not much different from what we carry today.
My entire B.O.B./72 hour emergency kit contains only 10 core items. Yup. My gear weight-loss program works. With proper knowledge and the skills to use available resources, the 10 C’s of Survivability is enough.
Here’s the multifunctional 10 piece kit I pack to stay alive if the need arises…
1.) Cutting Tool – Fixed blade knife
- 5 to 6 inch blade
- High carbon steel
- 90 degree spine
- Non-coated blade
- Full tang
2.) Combustion Device
- Bic lighter – thousands of open flames
- Ferrocerium rod – 3,000 degree sparks
- Proper clothing
- Emergency space blanket
- Clear 9×12 painter’s tarp
- Two 55 gallon drum liners
- Set up in 5 minutes or less
- 32 ounce stainless steel water bottle with nesting cup
- 30 liter dry bag
- 36# tarred mariners line (preferred over paracord)
- 25 ft. 550 paracord
6.) Cotton Bandana
- Char cloth – next fire
7.) Cargo Tape (Gorilla Brand)
- Fire extender
8.) Cloth Sail Needle
- Repair equipment
9.) Candling Device
There’s no fancy shiny survival objects in my 72 hour kit. These 10 items see plenty of dirt time each week. They are light enough to carry in my haversack every time I’m in the field Doing the Stuff.
Advice is plentiful. Sound advice is hard to come by. Don’t trust anything read here or anywhere else without first verifying the info for yourself!
Just for fun, the next time your involved in an online survival discussion, tell the know-it-alls you enjoyed their ultracrepidarian advice. They’ll take it as a compliment.
Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,
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