The Death of Expertise

The Death of Expertise

The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters

Book - 2017
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The rise of the internet and other technology has made information more easily-accessible than ever before. While this has had the positive effect of equalizing access to knowledge, it also has lowered the bar on what depth of knowledge is required to consider oneself an "expert." A cult ofanti-expertise sentiment has coincided with anti-intellectualism, resulting in massively viral yet poorly informed debates ranging from the anti-vaccination movement to attacks on GMOs. This surge in intellectual egalitarianism has altered the landscape of debates - all voices are equal, and "fact"is a subjective term. Browsing WebMD puts one on equal footing with doctors, and Wikipedia allows all to be foreign policy experts, scientists, and more.As Tom Nichols shows in The Death of Expertise, there are a number of reasons why this has occurred - ranging from easy access to Internet search engines to a customer satisfaction model within higher education. The product of these interrelated trends, Nichols argues, is a pervasive distrust ofexpertise among the public coinciding with an unfounded belief among non-experts that their opinions should have equal standing with those of the experts. The experts are not always right, of course, and Nichols discusses expert failure. The crucial point is that bad decisions by experts can andhave been effectively challenged by other well-informed experts. The issue now is that the democratization of information dissemination has created an army of ill-informed citizens who denounce expertise. When challenged, non-experts resort to the false argument that the experts are often wrong. Though it may be true, but the solution is not to jettison expertise as an ideal; it is to improve our expertise. Nichols is certainly not opposed to information democratization, but rather the enlightenmentpeople believe they achieve after superficial internet research. He shows in vivid detail the ways in which this impulse is coursing through our culture and body politic, but the larger goal is to explain the benefits that expertise and rigorous learning regimes bestow upon all societies.
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2017]
ISBN: 9780190469412
Characteristics: xv, 252 pages ; 22 cm


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Feb 04, 2018

A purveyor of postmodern academic leftist propaganda. He and his 'experts' are the real problem.

The inability of this group to separate expertise based on facts versus that based upon mere opinion and that of the herd, is the true cause of society's rejection of experts.

Download "Truth Decay" from the Rand Corporation website and become informed of why we really are not supportive of 'experts.'

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.

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".

Sep 06, 2017

An excellent book. A must read for anyone trying to get to the psychology behind this phenomenon. More than once, even (hence thrilled its available here).

SME (subject matter expert) lays out complex issues in simple terms why in 2017 the generic average US citizen would complain online such a book, about such a subject, is "Self serving and boring." or would internally characterize a narrative voice heavily steeped in logic and reason as "academic" or "whine[ing]".

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...

Apr 13, 2017

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

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 (

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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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.”

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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