- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0190469412
- ISBN-13: 978-0190469412
- Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.6 x 5.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters 1st Edition
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"A sharp analysis of an increasingly pressing problem..." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Nichols has issued a sadly necessary and urgent call... but it helps that his righteous indignation is coated in a healthy dose of wit." --Mark Hemingway, The Federalist
"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 does a breathtakingly detailed job in scrutinizing theAmerican consumer's refutation of traditional expertise. In the era ofescapism and denial, he offers a refreshing and timely book on how webalance our skepticism with trust going forward."--Salena Zito, national political reporter for The Washington Examiner, CNN, The New York Post, and RealClearPolitics
"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
"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
About the Author
Tom Nichols is Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, an adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School, and a former aide in the U.S. Senate. He is also the author of several works on foreign policy and international security affairs, including The Sacred Cause, No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security, Eve of Destruction: The Coming Age of Preventive War, and The Russian Presidency.
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 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Nichols' website is tomnichols.net and he can be found on Twitter at @RadioFreeTom.
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Top customer reviews
A few years ago, I read Daniel Kahneman's remarkable book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow." While many of the studies in the book have now been called into question (an excellent illustration of one of Tom Nichols' sections about when experts are wrong), I still found it fascinating how I, a person with a graduate-level degree and extensive self-education through extensive reading, knew so very little about so much. I became aware of how easy it is to think that I know more than I do. It was quite humbling, which I need to remember more frequently in discussions on many topics.
At least I am aware of how little I know, though. Sometimes. And I know that, even as an expert in my own field, I can make mistakes. How much do we see today, though, of people without any education or training or experience, claiming that their opinion is as valid as any expert, or dismissing experts as nothing more than "elites," as if that allows them to be ignored?
In a time when our entire world is built around technology and knowledge and the experts who understand them, Americans are forgetting how that all happened. They are so ignorant of the knowledge and experience and understanding that exists, that they don't have a clue that they don't have a clue. Dunning-Kruger writ large. And it is slowly destroying democracy and our republic.
Tom Nichols can only recommend what is key, and what even our Founding Fathers understood: the electorate must be an INFORMED electorate. The populace must understand enough to make the decisions to choose both smart experts (Knowers) and policymakers (Deciders) and understand the limits of each.
The conclusion of Tom's book, if anything, offers little hope. Sadly, I agree. We both do hold out some hope, of course, but it will take a massive effort on the part of all sides. If it will happen, no one can predict, not even the experts. But without experts and policy makers who listen, and an educated, informed populace that helps choose and respect them.....I worry for the world of my children.
Nichols does a fine job describing the problem: confirmation bias, conspiracy theories, lazy reliance on simple facts from Google and twitter, spoiled brats at dumbed down colleges who are coddled by their teachers, cable news and the death of journalism, etc. He also does a fair job of admitting that experts, including himself, do often get things wrong. But, he makes the case that just because they are wrong some of the time, we should still trust them to be right most of the time.
While that’s fair enough, Nichols seems to forget that voters are people too, and even though they make mistakes some of the time experts should trust them most of the time also. Respect is a too way street. Nichols is prepared to defend himself against the charges of elitism by lots of accurate, CYA comments offering some real humility about the role of experts in society. But, as a leading expert himself, he should know that you only get to present one big idea in a book, and his big idea is that regular folks should sit down, shut up, and listen to the experts. Thus, I suspect his book will receive a wider reading among experts than among non-experts, which is the audience he truly wants to reach.
The book is long on problem, short on solutions although it offers a few (mainly people need to be less lazy – which seems to lack a real understanding of the lives of most Americans and the deluge of information they are expected to sort through and digest.)
The book is worth a read and your serious consideration, but I’d recommend a taking it with a dose of Twilight of the Elites by Christopher Hayes just to provide some balance.