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

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“The death of expertise…is a different problem than the historical fact of low levels of information among laypeople. The issue is not indifference to established knowledge; it’s the emergence of a positive hostility to such knowledge. This is new in American culture, and it represents the aggressive replacement of expert views or established knowledge with the insistence that every opinion on any matter is as good as every other.”


Nichols details how the Dunning-Kruger Effect, confirmation bias, and our social brains combine to stifle reasoned, in-depth argument and deliberation. He shellacs the customer service model of higher education and journalism, the state of journalism in general, Wikipedia, the Internet and its glut of information, conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, experts themselves, and many more.  This disturbing book makes plain what our shallow-to-nonexistent discourse and our inability to be intellectually humble is doing to our democracy. The truth is that, if you’re reading this book, you’re one of the least likely people who need to be doing so—because you read lengthy works and not just headlines. But it needs to be read.

— From Andy's Staff Favorites


A cult of anti-expertise sentiment has coincided with anti-intellectualism, resulting in massively viral yet poorly informed debates ranging from the anti-vaccination movement to attacks on GMOs. As Tom Nichols shows in The Death of Expertise, there are a number of reasons why this has occurred-ranging from easy access to Internet search engines to a customer satisfaction model within higher education.

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 and he can be found on Twitter at @RadioFreeTom.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780190865979
ISBN-10: 0190865970
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: October 2018
Pages: 280
Language: English