- Copertina rigida: 272 pagine
- Editore: OUP USA (1 marzo 2017)
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 0190469412
- ISBN-13: 978-0190469412
- Peso di spedizione: 408 g
- Posizione nella classifica Bestseller di Amazon: n. 7.867 in Libri in altre lingue (Visualizza i Top 100 nella categoria Libri in altre lingue)
- Visualizza indice completo
The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters (Inglese) Copertina rigida – 1 mar 2017
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meticulously researched (Sheril Kirshenbaum, Science)
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.
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A few years ago, I read Daniel Kahneman's remarkable book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow." While many of the studies in the book have now been called into question (an excellent illustration of one of Tom Nichols' sections about when experts are wrong), I still found it fascinating how I, a person with a graduate-level degree and extensive self-education through extensive reading, knew so very little about so much. I became aware of how easy it is to think that I know more than I do. It was quite humbling, which I need to remember more frequently in discussions on many topics.
At least I am aware of how little I know, though. Sometimes. And I know that, even as an expert in my own field, I can make mistakes. How much do we see today, though, of people without any education or training or experience, claiming that their opinion is as valid as any expert, or dismissing experts as nothing more than "elites," as if that allows them to be ignored?
In a time when our entire world is built around technology and knowledge and the experts who understand them, Americans are forgetting how that all happened. They are so ignorant of the knowledge and experience and understanding that exists, that they don't have a clue that they don't have a clue. Dunning-Kruger writ large. And it is slowly destroying democracy and our republic.
Tom Nichols can only recommend what is key, and what even our Founding Fathers understood: the electorate must be an INFORMED electorate. The populace must understand enough to make the decisions to choose both smart experts (Knowers) and policymakers (Deciders) and understand the limits of each.
The conclusion of Tom's book, if anything, offers little hope. Sadly, I agree. We both do hold out some hope, of course, but it will take a massive effort on the part of all sides. If it will happen, no one can predict, not even the experts. But without experts and policy makers who listen, and an educated, informed populace that helps choose and respect them.....I worry for the world of my children.
The book’s central thesis is that the cause of society’s rejection of experts is multifactorial, and the willful ignorance of some portends adverse consequences for society as a whole. The book begins by clarifying what an expert is and then details (“How the Conversation Became Exhausting”) the psychological forces at play that animate and maintain misinformation. Here, the author makes his most unsettling revelation, based on former research: that those who are the least informed are actually the most confident that they are not ill-informed. In essence, this upgrades ‘being incompetent' to a ‘being incompetent with a zealous passion and a lack of self-scrutiny to curb your own fervor.’ Next, each chapter tackles a different factor that has contributed to the demise of expertise: higher education, instant access to information on the Internet and the explosion of niche-focused journalism. The book devotes one chapter to detail what to do and what happens when the experts are wrong. In its final pages, The Death of Expertise guides readers to answer the question, “Where do we go from here?”
As an expert (M.D.) I frequently found myself nodding in agreement as the author makes a clear case for why people trust themselves, however misinformed they may be. I would go as far to say that any expert would derive the most benefit from The Death of Expertise because it so neatly clarifies why your expertise is often minimized or overlooked. Sadly, the book ends without a clear resolve and instead predicts an exacerbation of the current dilemma.
I gave this book 3.75 stars for two reasons. (And yes, after reading this book I must first admit that I am a not a book review expert and am critiquing a published author). (1) At times, the book sneaks into a style of writing that reads like a frustrated man going on a rant. This is particularly evident in chapter titled, “Higher Education” that describes the many institutional variables that encourage over-protected and entitled college students to treat their professors more like a McDonalds drive-thru teller than a distinguished professor. In such digressions, the book reads like one man’s subjective commentary on society-at-large and thus carries less objective weight. (2) The book has solid points which are surrounded by lots of “fluff.” Indeed, this book began as an essay and a lot of material within the chapters is repetitive and draws out the point.
Ultimately this is a book worth reading because it encourages everyone to take responsibility for themselves, what they think, and why they think that way. After all, an engaged, well-informed population is integral to the functioning of a democracy. The Death of Expertise also compels people to gain an education on what matters most to them. Certainly, this is something experts and laypeople alike can agree on.
There are lots of reasons for this, including social media's coarsening of our culture, the collapse of the mainstream media's credibility and expansion of aggregators and other lesser forms of media, and the challenging environment of higher education. Nichols takes on these factors and others in this eminently readable volume.
I grew familiar with Nichols when he was recommended to me as a follow on Twitter, where he demonstrated a sense of humor that is evident here as well. If you are interested in public affairs and have wondered what has gone wrong with our public debate, you can understand it much better when you're done reading The Death of Expertise.
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