The Survival Expert Paradox

With so many variables in play, the idea of survival expert has always made me cringe. To call yourself a survival expert has always made me feel you’re a jackass. Oh and be sure I’ve had more than my fair share of encounters with you survival donkeys.

I recently came across an article [here] on the Survival Sherpa website succinctly describing the relation between survival and expert:


My buddy Tommy runs a popular Facebook group and put an interesting spin on this disturbing online trend… something I’d never thought of but makes total sense.

Here’s my paraphrased version…

Expert status takes thousands of hours and experience in a chosen field. Making poor decisions typically lands you in a survival situation. People claiming to be survival experts should also add to their resume, “Poor Decision-Making Expert.” I’ve never seen nor have I heard of anyone being in a real survival situation for 20, 30, or even 40 years and lived to tell about it.

To be an expert in survival, one would have had to be in hundreds of real survival situations. That basically makes one horrible at preparing beforehand. I can’t speak for you, but “Poor Decision-Making Expert” is the last thing I’d want in my bio… or tombstone.


Tommy and Todd, a tip of the hat to both of you for logically addressing one of many cancers plaguing the survival community.

So there in is the paradox. If you’re a survival expert, you win the jackass award for being in a survival situation that many times. That tells me you’re an idiot.

The truth is no one knows how they will react during an honest survival situation. There is no amount of training which can prepare you for the psychological anxiety one will experience in those situations. I am sure everyone who’s appeared on television shows—Naked and Afraid, Alone, Survivor, etc.—felt they had the “expertise” to handle such a situation. In many respects, they had the physical aptitude: making fire, trapping, purifying water, shelter, etcetera. However; the participants, to varying degrees, lacked the most fundamental of all; mental constitution. And, by the looks of it, given a little more time, all would have succumb to starvation.

On the upside, I applaud all of those who tapped out when they did. They respected their limitation, regardless of their wilderness savvy. I’m glad your ego is in check.

So, to all of you “self proclaimed” wilderness survival experts, you’re nothing more than charlatans.

Check your honor and integrity.