The Death of Expertise by Tom Nichols [Book Summary – Review]


If you haven’t heard the sentence “fake news” recently, you’ve lived in a remote tent for the past year. We now are in an age of racing narratives about what constitutes reality. The widening gap between people who trust and who do not trust established narratives has become so excellent that knowing what – or whom – to believe can frequently be tough.

However, all of this did not occur overnight. By the American community, in particular, it was moved towards its current impasse for some time, and political rhetoric isn’t only the wrong thing. Whether they’re using their reputation to promote grade inflation in the nation’s best universities or famous people don’t know much about, the marks have been there for a while.


Buy this book from Amazon



Chapter 1 – While disagreements over specialty are nothing novel, they are rising in the internet period.


In the past, you can assume some misinformation from the tobacco or sugar industries who are always prepared to say you how harmless their products are. However, it is getting harder and harder to keep track of what is real and what is fake nowadays.

Generally speaking, it is being able to challenge a government’s official message that has always been a mark of a healthy democracy. In ancient Athens, the cradle of democracy, around the fifth century BC, there was an intensive involvement of the public in discussions about social and political developments.

And at even that period, there were the exact two contrasts that we keep going to see today: intellectuals who most assume people are buffoons, and ordinary people with distrust of someone who claims to be a specialist.

But things changed dramatically when the internet came to our home, and the disagreement between experts and laypeople was madly out of control.



It is the internet that makes it probable to discover a resource to back up any view under the sun, no matter how unscientific it may be, and it is also being provided by people that they feel more strongly than ever to voice their ideas.

When people start teaming up and attacking established information, years of scientific improvement are jeopardized and people’s lives can be put at risk.

This is exactly the situation with the anti-vaccine campaign. Notwithstanding logical research and the crushing majority of doctors and scientists suggesting that vaccines are confident and necessary to preserve children against illness, this is a dangerous myth that pops into the public mind. Now, by many people, it is believed that vaccines are maleficent and can even cause autism.

What’s worse is that these moves can gather celebrity support, as with Jim Carrey, who uses his fame status to spread misinformation. Now, their children and others are at risk because of denying to vaccinate their kids by thousands of parents.

People reject expert advice because they use the thesis that specialists were wrong in the past and could be mistaken again. It’s true, but it’s also true that science is getting more precise, and experienced specialists are less possible to be wrong than normal citizens and movie stars, particularly when it comes to their profession.


Chapter 2 – Human qualities that will provoke us to believe in a wrong argument are found in human beings.


With an endless amount of information waiting to be shifted, by innumerable people, debates on everything from Batman movies to theoretical science were involved. Not having a formal education in a subject does not undermine people’s confidence in their talent to read a few articles and believe they fully understand a topic.

This makes much online talking harassing to read, but it’s significant to note that both specialists and layman are likely to many of the same prejudices ingrained in human nature.

Let’s consider the Dunning-Kruger effect. In 1999, by Cornell University psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, it was found that having less talent in a given duty can make someone less prone to notice their inadequacy.

The reason for this is the absence of metacognition, the feature that is aware of our thought processes and permits one to realize their boundaries.



Even if it may seem obvious to others that their thoughts are radically diverted, the main reason why people are so determined may be a lack of metacognition.

Our tendency to seek and pay attention to just information that matches what we already believe is another individual feature that can direct us in the wrong direction. This is known as verification prejudice.

If you were raised by hearing that all left-handed people are agents of evil, you can obtain police reports of each southern claw who did a crime and cite these documents as evidence. In the meantime, you can deny every statement by empathetic or benevolent leftists as an exception, or undoubtedly as part of a conspiracy to expel the society.

Verification prejudice manages this way; It is a very human mindset that can cause even the most skilled specialists to take the wrong path.

For instance, doctors can be concentrated so simply on a particular diagnosis, and so, they just see symptoms that fit their theory and overlook those that sign to the real situation.


Chapter 3 – Alumni and alumnae are no longer specialists as higher education has become a product.


In the last century, an important change was seen in education systems and the systems are away from excellent.

While, before World War II, a university degree was a symbol of specialty in a particular field, however now, a university education largely attends its graduates with decades of experience, who are overly trusting in their belief that they are as intelligent as a professor.

College diploma means less than before due to a trend that started decades ago when colleges started to look more successful and justify their inflated tuition fees. As a result, students are pampered and praised throughout their higher education, rather than intellectually rigors.

A study was occurred by two professors at 200 US colleges and universities comparing historical data up to 2009. At present, around 60 percent of all grades were either A minus or A at Yale, while 80 percent of all grades were higher than B-minus, with A being the most frequently given grade.



The right thing is to be able to say that college education is now seen as a product someone buys, like a spa visit where students are clients; The days when campuses have real educational worth ​​are disappearing.

Universities too now, like other businesses, compete for money from a young demographic and concentrate on experience instead of content. The center has now changed from educational excellence to offering the greatest pizza in the cafeteria or the most luxurious dorm rooms. It’s even normal to see students with great rights treat their lecturers, such as the paid staff who are there to wait on them.

While this may sound like an overstatement, this attitude is not entirely discouraging, because, by many institutions, rating and criticizing their professors at the end of per term was demanded from their students. It is not surprising that students think superior notwithstanding having a low education.


Chapter 4 – Don’t rely on everything that is read on the internet by you.


While there are some excellent benefits of being largely free and disorganized, the making sure accuracy of information is not among them.

What is a great tool for researchers and journalists is the internet, however, when you don’t know how to check your facts again, you can easily go wrong.

Because there was little protection to restrict people from posting anything on the internet, this made the site a place infested with false and fake information. Therefore, it can be very careful to distinguish fake news from true reporting.

In 2015, a so-called “scoop” was published by writer Allen West on a bluenose news website insisting that US troops were compelled to pray like Muslims during Ramadan. The piece even placed a photo of US soldiers praying on mats, under the heading of the clickbait: “Look at what our troops are being COMPELLED to do.”



Although the story was fake, it could not be prevented from spreading like a virus within social media platforms and other news sites.

By human-beings who are well-known with the rules of research and how to verify a resource have what, it was taken to solve this confusion and use the internet accountably. However, most readers out there are easily misguided by not being educated to identify a fake article.

This problem is mixed by the fact that many people are affected by confirmation prejudice and use the internet to strengthen their biased opinions. For most people, the internet is not a device for discovering and searching the truth, but a web of lies that readers are happy to get stuck on.

Since so many false news is published at this point, by them, now as a “source” is served for more misleading articles to be on the base of them.

Since this is true for all anti-vaccine stories, one can simply surf the internet and search for articles supporting the alleged hazard claims, while neglecting actual scientific studies.

Since there is a minefield of wrong information out there, what is up to the reader is being cautious not to fall into a trick.


Chapter 5 – It is modern journalism that gives readers the wrong effect of information.


If you think many news articles these days have simplified their content, you are not only one to think like that.

Although the promotion of the Internet may have raised the number of resources available, it has reduced the quality of the content.

Whereas being a reporter used to mean a specific experience and a set of journalistic standards, the internet allowed anyone with a computer to open a news site and create readers. Since the beginning of the century, the thing that has risen regularly is the number of news sources on the Internet.

At the same time, what means an enhanced demand for content is more news sources – and for journalists to produce that content – and being inexperienced isn’t specifically a deal-breaker. Therefore, it should not be surprising that an increase in the number of inexperienced journalists leads to an overall decrease in the quality of the news on display.

Although the need for content also causes outlets to be filled with fake news, even a lot of real news is published with errors and mistakes.

In 2016, the best 100 female authors of the whole time were listed in Time magazine. There was between them found British writer Evelyn Waugh, a male.

It was the fact check that sat in the back seat of the request for clickable content, so, on the news websites, the material readers want to read rather than what they need to read was highlighted.



On the web, revenue is decided by the mutual effect. Therefore, for-profit, in websites, stories, that are designed to be clickable and shareable, is written. And by internet users, it was preferred entertainment news and articles that confirmed their beliefs.

Consequently, at many outlets, it is not offered as much information as they do for entertainment and distractions. The things that are published are planned stories to comfort instead of challenge and deliberately avoid harrowing facts.

To aid this interaction, readers are encouraged to share and comment on social media by news sites, which opens the door for regular people to feel right and start investigating complex issues without the required insight.


Chapter 6 – Who may be wrong too is the specialists.


Specialists are individuals like each of us and from time to time it is proven that they are incorrect. Unluckily, their failures can suffer more than others, as they guide to strikes on facts and embedded information.

Although many reasons are found why a specialist show an epic unsuccessful moment, moving further from their area of specialty is a widespread one.

This was the situation for Linus Pauling, the two-time Nobel Prize-winning chemist. In the 1970s, by him, it was convinced that vitamin C was a wonder drug. Therefore, by him, tremendous amounts were consumed on a daily base and believed it could be used as a cure for just about anything such as from cancer to leprosy.



Pauling’s claims were properly suspicious by scientists and attempted to point out that their tests did not back-up Pauling’s theories. However, by Pauling, their truth was not paid attention.

Now, it is known by us that overdosing on vitamins is likely and that there are ones that can exacerbate strokes and specific kinds of cancer. Although Pauling was an intelligent chemist, when it came to his medical specialty, he was beyond for him depth.

Making predictions are another general fault that is done by specialists.

Essentially, it is the job of a scientist that includes explaining what has happened or is now. But reporters and inquisitive minds are asked to make predictions from scientists to prepare people for the future.

However, even the most trained specialist can collapse miserably, when the topic comes to predict the future.

Let’s see at the recent US presidential election. In 2016, by countless polls and political experts, a victory for Hillary Clinton was predicted, therefore, everyone was rather shocked when Donald Trump appeared victoriously.

An alike forecast was conducted before the UK’s “Brexit” referendum, which surprised most specialists.

People who can make faults like the rest of us individuals are specialists. However, rather than answering with distrust or anger, it must be continued by us to work with specialists to discover from these faults and understand what is occurring in the world. What relies on it is our future!


The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters by Tom Nichols Book Review


There are many explanations from established specialists as to why we are currently faced with a lot of misinformation, lies, confusion, and mistrust. While the Internet and modern news are disrupting our relationship with specialists from doctors to university professors, university education can hurt public debate rather than enrich it. We must identify the cognitive biases that guide our specialists and laymen to make faults and work together to find out from them.



Download Pdf


https://goodbooksummary.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/The+Death+of+Expertise+by+Tom+Nichols+Book+Summary+-+Review.pdf


Download Epub


https://goodbooksummary.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/The+Death+of+Expertise+by+Tom+Nichols+Book+Summary+-+Review.epub


Audiobook


Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

Recent Posts