The Death of Expertise

The Death of Expertise

The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters

Book - 2017
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People are now exposed to more information than ever before, provided both by technology and by increasing access to every level of 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.
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2017]
ISBN: 9780190469412
0190469412
Characteristics: xv, 252 pages ; 22 cm

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cello9flute
Jan 07, 2018

An excellent book which helps explain why Trump won in 2016. Every parent, but especially every teacher from preschool on up should read chapter three on higher education. With the best will in the world parents and teachers in the past 20 years have been trying to make kids feel good, that everybody is a winner, that if you aren't getting good grades it's not because you don't know enough. The result is college students--and adults--who not only don't know enough, but don't know that they don't know. Millions of Trumps elected Trump. the author raises the serious question of how we can be a democracy--i.e. rule ourselves, if we are not willing to put in the time and effort necessary to understand the major issues of the day.

s
snavelyz
Dec 05, 2017

This book resonates with my opinion. A must read to realize the scene of current youth culture, which is very important to the people who wants the best for our nation.

I think one of the earlier commentator is an example of members of the culture this author talks about in this book.

Remember the comments in the book about the "Sarin Expert".

m
marcrrussell
Jul 05, 2017

you may not want to read this 'cover to cover'; I found some chapters to be less relevant/interesting. But the overall picture of where we are today was spot on and well articulated. Really made me think about over-democratizing EVERY discussion in EVERY forum! (I'm not on social media) Also made me re-investigate the idea of America as A REPUBLIC...

h
heidiup1
Apr 13, 2017

Worth the read. I learned a lot. Not qualified to comment, however!

n
nedh39
Mar 30, 2017

It's unfortunate that Star Gladiator doesn't know the difference between "complement" and "compliment" - it makes everything else he's said quite suspect, and since it's really very much over the top, only serves to emphasize the correctness of David Nichols recent Wall Street Journal column about how we can't agree about anything, nor even listen carefully to a different opinion (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-real-reason-americans-cant-agree-on-unemployment-or-just-about-anything-else-2017-03-29?mod=cx_picks&cx_navSource=cx_picks&cx_tag=other&cx_artPos=7#cxrecs_s)

s
StarGladiator
Dec 19, 2016

- - - - Unworthy of rating -- minus 10 stars - - - -
[Additional comment: Nichols cites as an epitome in this book a verbal exchange between an academic and former political advisor and a grad student concerning Reagan's spaced-based missile defense {SDI or Star Wars} of which much of it turned out to be a hoax meant to mislead the Soviets - - and historically we know the grad student was correct, and Jastrow, if I recall his name correctly, was most incorrect - - but you would never know it from this author! ! !]
The author, a professor of national security [it figures!], writes a book about the death of expertise and makes comments on the JFK assassination while never having read the Warren Commission Report - - it figures!
This author has the absolute audacity to cite another clown, Canadian rightwing stooge, Jonathan Kay, who wrote a book full of nothing more than innuendo and ad hominem attacks, with no factual sources - - and miraculously was given almost unlimited airtime on NPR and CBC to hawk his pile of garbage! [We call that Fake News To The Max!]
Book rated farce - - author rated sub-farce.
Author even manages to trash the movie, Good Will Hunting [author appears to recoil at an elitist phony being shown up, even in the movies], and then incorrectly states that Robert Ludlum created the fictional superassassin Jason Bourne - - wrong, Ludlum's character was a pathetic basket case, the movie scriptwriters created Jason Bourne as a superassassin.
Sidebar: Ludlum, whose brother John Ludlum was with the CIA, once claimed in an interview that while on the beach in Jamaica a stranger tipped him off that Carlos the Jackal was the assassin of President Kennedy - - since Illych Ramirez Sanchez, alias Carlos, would have been around 3-years-old at that time, he truly was a superassassin [Carlos specialty was tossing grenades into restaurants full of unsuspecting patrons].
Near the end, Nichols the author, complements both Henry Kissinger and Robert McNamara - - this author is not to be believed! [And you see the neverending spewing forth of misinformation and disinformation from anyone close to, or connected with, certain agencies within the government or Pentagon? It never stops, and they have access to unlimited funds.]

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paul1
Dec 26, 2017

“No, the bigger problem is that we’re proud of not knowing things. Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of anything related to public policy, is an actual virtue. To reject the advice of experts is to assert autonomy, a way for Americans to insulate their increasingly fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong about anything.”

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paul1
Sep 15, 2017

"For laypeople to use expert advice and to place professionals in their proper roles as servants, rather than masters they must accept their own limitations as well. Democracy cannot function when every citizen is an expert. Yes, it is unbridled ego for experts to believe they can run a democracy while ignoring its voters; it is also, however, ignorant narcissism for laypeople to believe they can maintain a large and advanced nation without listening to the voices of those more educated and experienced than themselves." page 208

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