Tom Nichols’ book, The Death of Expertise – The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters (2017) is important because it magnifies a disturbing new reality. He explains exactly what expertise is, and is not, and why our culture has recently and radically devalued expert advice. I became aware of this trend over the last few years but underestimated how bad it has become. Professor Nichols articulates the sad developments for all to see.
He carefully constructs his argument in 7 chapters, each one offering a logical cause for why a majority of the public has become arrogantly stupid.
Ch. 1 – Experts and Citizens
Ch. 2 – How Conversation Became Exhausting
Ch. 3 – Higher Education: The Customer is Always Right
Ch. 4 – Let me Google That for You: How Unlimited Information is Making Us Dumber
Ch. 5 – The “New” New Journalism, and Lots of It
Ch. 6 – When Experts Are Wrong
Ch. 7 – Conclusion: Experts and Democracy
The book is entertaining, alarming and, for me anyway, somewhat comforting in that I know my clients have not descended into the morass of militant ignorance into which a majority of Americans have sunk (read the book if you don’t believe that we are now mostly a country of angry morons).
Here’s a couple quotes to give you a flavor:
“I wrote this because I’m worried. We no longer have those principled and informed arguments. The foundational knowledge of the average American is now so low that it has crashed through the floor of ‘uninformed’, passed ‘misinformed’ on the way down, and is now plummeting to ‘aggressively wrong’.
“Most causes of ignorance can be overcome, if people are willing to learn. Nothing, however, can overcome the toxic confluence of arrogance, narcissism, and cynicism that Americans now wear like a full suite of armor against the efforts of experts and professionals”.
It’s a shame that our society has reached this point. Awareness is our Estate Planning War Chest defensive weapon against the enemy of ignorance. Let’s explore the ideas contained in this illuminating book.