The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters

Tom Nichols. Oxford Univ, $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-19-046941-2
Nichols (Eve of Destruction: The Coming Age of Preventive War) expands his 2014 article published by The Federalist with a highly researched and impassioned book that’s well timed for this post-election period. The crux of the book’s argument is that people—specifically in the American public—have grown increasingly hostile to expertise. Nichols explores the sources of this hostility (“some of which are rooted in human nature, others that are unique to America and some that are unavoidable product of modernity and affluence”), discusses the notion of “expert,” and considers the devastating consequences of the loss of trust on democratic institutions. He blames changes in higher education, the explosion and fracturing of media outlets, and confirmation bias and other psychological effects of an oversaturated media environment. Generally, Nichols displays strong reasoning, but at times he goes off the rails. It takes some time in the sections on education and Google, for instance, for him to make his point. Otherwise, this strongly researched textbook for laymen will have many political and news junkies nodding their heads in agreement. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2016
Release date: 03/01/2017
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