The infamous "(coach, athlete, fitness celebrity, etc) of the year" lists: it's that time of the year
All the folks in the sciences connected to any of the fitness industry branches dread this time of the year. That's when someone self-proclaimed as a "ranking-maker", according to no criterion, produces a list also based on no criteria ranking the "best" (obviously not, since there is no merit metric) 10, 20 or 40 fitness coaches, diet coaches, strength coaches or whatever “of the year”.
Why do we dread it? Because they insult our sciences, our alma-mater and our identity. It is sad and depressing. It still baffles us why it is so hard to understand that there is a high existential (and time, and financial and even physical) investment in the profession we embraced. Insulting it with platitudes and blatant lies is something we avoid looking at but it is almost impossible. We are bombarded by these lists with every post, newsletter and email.
Why are they so wrong? Because they override accepted procedures of hierarchy, authority and ranking building in the professions, especially so in the science-based professions.
Below you will find a small collection of resources about the Delphi method. The Delphi method was originally (in the 1950s) developed as a forecasting method as accurate as possible by assessing experts' evaluation of something.
The technique has been adopted to produce ranking lists of anything, including professionals, as accurate as possible. It is not surprising that experts' self-evaluation from well-structured expert communities have a high correlation with the group's evaluation of them. Take a field like "molecular parasitology", for example. A hierarchical list of experts produced with the Delphi method will have not only high coherence, but also high correlation with external indicators such as a 10 year publication impact factor measurement.
The problem with fields that are not highly well structured is not their lack of structure. It is the obscene dishonesty of self-proclaimed rank-builders.
Here is my little gift to you: enjoy the Delphi method and try to delete the emails and posts with the "best-whatever-2019-lists".
(click on the picture below and you will get to the folder, from which you can download whatever you want)