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
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
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.
Table of Contents ; Introduction ; A Nation of Explainers ; Chapter One ; Higher Education: The Customer is Always Right ; Chapter Two ; Let me Google That for You: The Impact of the Internet ; Chapter Three ; History is Bunk, and So is Science: How Conversation Became Exhausting ; Chapter Four ; The New Journalism - and New Journalists ; Chapter Five ; Don't Blame Us: Why Expertise and Policy Aren't the Same Thing ; Chapter Six ; When the Experts are Wrong ; Conclusion ; Democracy, Expertise, and Citizenship