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.
The demise of experts — PBS Newshour
The Death of Expertise — Politics and Prose
Interview — Tavis Smiley Show
The Death of Expertise — C-Span
"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