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The Death of Expertise

The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters
Narrated by: Sean Pratt
Length: 8 hrs and 40 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (680 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 and all voices demand to be taken with equal seriousness, and any claim to the contrary is dismissed as undemocratic elitism. Tom Nichols shows 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 notes 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.

©2017 Oxford University Press (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A sharp analysis of an increasingly pressing problem." ( Kirkus)

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Disappointing

Any additional comments?

Seeing the other reviews, I realize I am in a very small minority in stating that overall, I was disappointed in this audio book. I had read some good (though brief) reviews, but the book seemed to meander and deviate from what its title indicated the subject would be. I thought too much time was spent discussing the failings of colleges and universities. The Introduction and Conclusion parts of the book were good, as was the chapter on “The ‘New’ New Journalism.” I did like the author’s writing, and his use of words and conveying his thoughts were well done. However, the substance of what he said was often unimpressive, and I was somewhat put off by the author’s occasional flashes of a fondness for elitism (though he was referring to “good elitism” rather than the “bad elitism” as is typically viewed for an egalitarian society).

If the audio book had been condensed to 90 minutes from its over 8-hour length, hitting the high points, it would have been a worthwhile listen for me, since the author did have some good observations. What helped me finish the audio book was the superb reading by Sean Pratt. He was one of the best narrators to whom I have listened.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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There couldn't be a better book at this time.

I learned of Tom Nichols when I first started using Twitter last year. He was funny, sharply critical of foolishness, and to my surprise, an avowed conservative. What struck me most about his tweets, and profoundly moved me in his book, is his well-reasoned insistence that we the people, who have so much to lose by living a life of indifference or studied ignorance, have access to resources that can address and often solve our greatest problems. We need only listen, carefully but critically, to those with expertise. He does not espouse blind allegiance to a greater education or heap disdain on those whose expertise is born of painful errors or years of tedious, mindane work. It is well-balanced book that simply requests that we be responsible for our own lives, and respect the skills and experience of those whose specialized knowledge can help us as individuals and as a society.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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An extremely important book for our time

This book is more important than ever! It covers how expertise is dying at the hands of too much information and the laziness of the average American to get the real facts. The author covers the domains of higher education, journalism, politics, and our democracy as a whole and discusses how people's need for quick snippets rather than delving deeper is costing us a great deal. A scary tome for our future, but understanding the problem is the first step to fixing it. READ THIS BOOK!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Thoughtful Discussion of A Critical Challenge

This book is a thoughtful discussion of how social media and media bias become supporters of our own preconceptions and lead us to believe that we are more expert than we are. Equally critical of the right and left, the discussion is well balanced.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Preaching to the choir but I ate it up.

Well written and well performed. It tells the story that needed to be chronicled. The only question is how to get the people that -really- need to hear this message to bith hear it -and- accept it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Good diagnosis - short on remedies

A decent enough book. A lot of preaching to the choir and a bit more "snarky" that it has to be and really offers no solutions. He makes some very good points with great arguments but could be about 1/3 the length.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A must read/listen for those who care about our way of life

This book is eye opening, wise, and thought provoking. If you care about our way of life and what's going wrong with our society this book, better than all others that I've come across, is a must read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A defeatist sentimentality

I enjoyed the book immensely and it gave me pause to remember that humility is the virtue and pride is the sin. Even though this is non-fiction it has a very dystopian feel to it, much like the fictional works of Orwell, Huxley, Atwood and Sinclair. I would recommend it to both expert and layperson alike.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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I couldn't stop listening.

A fascinating and insightful look at the problems with today's youth. The author is a teacher so he has witnessed and deconstructed the millenial train wreck.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Describes our current situation

Describes the path to our current situation of fake news and alternative truths. It would be useful for all Americans to read this.
The author had trouble trying to identify solutions to this quandary. There are no clear paths for ways to make the cultural and social changes to reverse the thinking patterns that have us in seemingly endless loops.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful