The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and why it Matters

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Oxford University Press, 2017 - Political Science - 252 pages
Technology and increasing levels of education have exposed people to more information than ever before. 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.

Tom Nichols' The Death of Expertise shows how this rejection of experts has occurred: 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, among other reasons. 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. 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. An update to the 2017breakout hit, the paperback edition of The Death of Expertise provides a new foreword to cover the alarming exacerbation of these trends in the aftermath of Donald Trump's election. Judging from events on the ground since it first published, The Death of Expertise issues a warning about the stability and survival of modern democracy in the Information Age that is even more important today.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Daniel.Estes - LibraryThing

The Death of Expertise is the best curmudgeonly, "get off my lawn" argument for returning to better norms I've ever read. The author makes his case as reasoned and articulate as possible but you can ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Coutre - LibraryThing

Tom Nichols’ Death of Expertise reminds us of a time when we took expert opinion seriously. Not that we followed blindly because the expert had a PhD, but because we were more thoughtful. We realized ... Read full review


The Death of Expertise
1 Experts and Citizens
2 How Conversation Became Exhausting
The Customer Is Always Right
How Unlimited Information Is Making Us Dumber
5 The New New Journalism and Lots of It
6 When the Experts Are Wrong
Experts and Democracy

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About the author (2017)

Tom Nichols is Professor of National Security Affairs, US Naval War College; author of Eve of Destruction (U Penn Press), No Use: Nuclear Weapons and US National Security (U Penn Press), and The Sacred Cause (Cornell). He also taught at Dartmouth College, Georgetown University (where he alsoreceived his PhD), and other schools and lecture programs. He is currently a Senior Associate of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, and a Fellow of the International History Institute at Boston University. He has also been a Fellow of the International Security Program and theProject on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is also a five-time undefeated Jeopardy! champion, and as one of the all-time top players of the game, he was invited back to play in the 2005Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Nichols' website is and he can be found on Twitter at @RadioFreeTom.

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