I am looking for a word or phrase which means, roughly, "Someone who respects only the expertise of their own field," or "Someone who thinks only their own field is difficult and everyone else's is simple."

I have variously heard it referred to as "physicist syndrome," "engineer syndrome," or "computer scientist syndrome," but I am looking for a word or phrase which does not refer back to a particular field, for the following reasons:

  • It is mildly offensive to people in those fields (I am an engineer and a computer scientist myself)
  • It unfairly attributes to all members something true only of a few, and
  • It unfairly excludes others in different professions with the same attitude

What I am specifically not looking for is a word for an individual who thinks only their own personal expertise is actual expertise, i.e., the word or phrase would not be applicable to an engineer who thinks all other engineers lack expertise.

Part of the overall concept is captured very well by this XKCD comic, and I could have sworn there was an equivalent strip for computer scientists, but I can't locate it.

Usage in a sentence might run as follows: "My brother-in-law was a gifted surgeon, but also a ______; the thought of anyone offering an opinion on medical matters without an M.D. filled him with contempt, but felt well-qualified to tell plumbers, mechanics, engineers, even airline pilots how to do their jobs on the strength of his medical degree."

But again, the essential element is neither the surgeon nor the medical degree. It is the surgeon simultaneously exalting the knowledge of his own field while degrading all others.


3 Answers 3



1 Excessive pride or self-confidence. ‘the self-assured hubris among economists was shaken in the late 1980s’

1.1 (in Greek tragedy) excessive pride towards or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis. ODO

  • 1
    UV. The implication is having little knowledge outside their proud area of expertise, which they cannot see, or consider irrelevant. Jul 25, 2017 at 19:09
  • I was thinking bigot, but I like hubris.
    – Just Rudy
    Jul 25, 2017 at 19:10

This is called having tunnel vision.

tunnel vision n. a condition in which there is a major loss of peripheral vision; also, one in which anything away from the centre of one's field of view escapes attention; also fig., inability to see more than a single or limited point of view. (OED)

You can even use the adjective tunnel-visioned.


The physicist had tunnel vision, considering that only the study of physics could contribute anything substantial to society.

The engineer was tunnel-visioned towards his field--he felt only his particular discipline was truly worth pursuing.




a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.

"narcissists who think the world revolves around them"

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