The Death of Expertise

Tom Nichols’ new book The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters has direct relevance to many of the issues we are constantly grappling with on Science-Based Medicine. In a democracy, everyone has equal rights; and many people think that means they are equal to experts in knowledge and judgment. In medicine, as in most other areas of public discourse, we are faced with angry laymen who denounce intellectual achievement and scientific knowledge and who distrust experts.

People find ways to reject the evidence when it conflicts with their values and beliefs.  When scientific evidence challenges their views, they doubt the science rather than themselves. New examples of this phenomenon can be found every day in the news and in the Comments sections of the Science-Based Medicine blog, and trying to set those people straight has proven a mostly futile exercise.

The failure of higher

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