ISBN : 9780190865979
People are now exposed to more information than ever before, provided both by technology and by increasing access to every level education. These societal gains, however, have also helped fuel a surge in narcissistic and misguided intellectual egalitarianism that has crippled informed debates on any number of issues. Today, everyone knows everything; with only a quick trip through WebMD or Wikipedia, average citizens believe themselves to be on an equal intellectual footing with doctors and diplomats. All voices, even the most ridiculous, demand to be taken with equal seriousness, and any claim to the contrary is dismissed as undemocratic elitism.
As Tom Nichols shows in The Death of Expertise, this rejection of experts has occurred for many reasons, including the openness of the internet, the emergence of a customer satisfaction model in higher education, and the transformation of the news industry into a 24-hour entertainment machine. Paradoxically, the increasingly democratic dissemination of information, rather than producing an educated public, has instead created an army of ill-informed and angry citizens who denounce intellectual achievement.
Nichols has deeper concerns than the current rejection of expertise and learning, noting that when ordinary citizens believe that no one knows more than anyone else, democratic institutions themselves are in danger of falling either to populism or to technocracy—or, in the worst case, a combination of both. The Death of Expertise is not only an exploration of a dangerous phenomenon but also a warning about the stability and survival of modern democracy in the Information Age.
Introduction. The Death of Expertise
Chapter 1. Experts and Citizens
Chapter 2. How Conversation Became Exhausting
Chapter 3. Higher Education: The Customer Is Always Right
Chapter 4. Let Me Google That for You: How Unlimited Information Is Making Us Dumber
Chapter 5. The "New" New Journalism, and Lots of It
Chapter 6. When the Experts Are Wrong
Conclusion. Experts and Democracy
"Nichols expands his 2014 article published by The Federalist with a highly researched and impassioned book that's well timed for this post-election period... strongly researched textbook for laymen will have many political and news junkies nodding their heads in agreement." - Publishers Weekly
"Tom Nichols is fighting a rear-guard action on behalf of those dangerous people who actually know what they are talking about. In a compelling, and often witty, polemic, he explores why experts are routinely disregarded and what might be done to get authoritative knowledge taken more seriously." - Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies, King's College London, and author of Strategy
"We live in a post-fact age, one that's dangerous for a whole host of reasons. Here is a book that not only acknowledges this reality, but takes it head on. Persuasive and well-written, The Death of Expertise is exactly the book needed for our times." - Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group
"Americans are indifferent to real journalism in forming their opinions, hoaxes prove harder to kill than a slasher-flick monster, and the word 'academic' is often hurled like a nasty epithet. Tom Nichols has put his finger on what binds these trends together: positive hostility to established knowledge. The Death of Expertise is trying to turn back this tide." - Dan Murphy, former Middle East and Southeast Asia Bureau Chief, The Christian Science Monitor
"Tom Nichols has written a brilliant, timely, and very original book. He shows how the digital revolution, social media, and the internet have helped to foster a cult of ignorance. Nichols makes a compelling case for reason and rationality in our public and political discourse." - Robert J. Lieber, Georgetown University, and author of Retreat and Its Consequences
"Tom Nichols does a breathtakingly detailed job in scrutinizing the American consumer's refutation of traditional expertize. In the era of escapism and denial, he offers a refreshing and timely book on how we balance our skepticism with trust going forward." - Salena Zito, national political reporter for The Washington Examiner, CNN, The New York Post, and RealClearPolitics
"Timely...useful...in providing an overview of just how we arrived at this distressing state of affairs." - New York Times
"This may sound like a rant you have heard before, but Nichols has a sense of humour and chooses his examples well. His anger is a lot more attractive than the standard condescension." - Financial Times
"A genial guide through the wilderness of ignorance." - Kirkus Reviews
"Nichols is a forceful and sometimes mordant commentator, with an eye for the apt analogy." - Inside Higher Education