Thomas M. Nichols Quotes
“At the root of all this is an inability among laypeople to understand that experts being wrong on occasion about certain issues is not the same thing as experts being wrong consistently on everything. The fact of the matter is that experts are more often right than wrong, especially on essential matters of fact. And yet the public constantly searches for the loopholes in expert knowledge that will allow them to disregard all expert advice they don’t like. In”
“No, the bigger problem is that we’re proud of not knowing things. Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of anything related to public policy, is an actual virtue. To reject the advice of experts is to assert autonomy, a way for Americans to insulate their increasingly fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong about anything.”
“the bigger problem is that we’re proud of not knowing things. Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of anything related to public policy, is an actual virtue. To reject the advice of experts is to assert autonomy, a way for Americans to insulate their increasingly fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong about anything”
“As it turns out, however, the more specific reason that unskilled or incompetent people overestimate their abilities far more than others is because they lack a key skill called “metacognition.” This is the ability to know when you’re not good at something by stepping back, looking at what you’re doing, and then realizing that you’re doing it wrong.”
“There is no way around the reality that students are too often wasting their money and obtaining the illusion of an education by gravitating toward courses or majors that either shouldn’t exist or whose enrollments should be restricted to the small number of students who intend to pursue them seriously and with rigor. This, too, is one of the many things faculty are not supposed to say out loud, because to resentful parents and hopeful students, it sounds like baseless elitism. It”
“I was a straight-A student at a university” does not mean what it did in 1960 or even 1980. A study of two hundred colleges and universities up through 2009 found that A was the most commonly given grade, an increase of nearly 30 percent since 1960 and over 10 percent just since 1988. Grades in the A and B range together now account for more than 80 percent of all grades in all subjects, a trend that continues unabated.17”
“The growth of this kind of stubborn ignorance in the midst of the Information Age cannot be explained away as merely the result of rank ignorance. Many of the people who campaign against established knowledge are otherwise adept and successful in their daily lives. In some ways, it is all worse than ignorance: it is unfounded arrogance, the outrage of an increasingly narcissistic culture that cannot endure even the slightest hint of inequality of any kind.”
“In modern life outside of the academy, however, arguments and debates have no external review. Facts come and go as people find convenient at the moment. Thus, confirmation bias makes attempts at reasoned argument exhausting because it produces arguments and theories that are nonfalsifiable. It is the nature of confirmation bias itself to dismiss all contradictory evidence as irrelevant, and so my evidence is always the rule, your evidence is always a mistake or an exception. It’s impossible to argue with this kind of explanation, because by definition it’s never wrong. An”
“People do not come to the Internet so that their bad information can be corrected or their cherished theories disproven. Rather, they ask the electronic oracle to confirm them in their ignorance. In 2015 a Washington Post writer, Caitlin Dewey, worried that fact-checking could never defeat myths and hoaxes because “no one has the time or cognitive capacity to reason all the apparent nuances and discrepancies out.”3 In the end, she sighed, “debunking them doesn’t do a darn thing.”
“A talk show, for example, with one scientist who says genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe and one activist who says they are dangerous looks “balanced,” but in reality that is ridiculously skewed, because nearly nine out of ten scientists think GMOs are safe for consumption. At some point, in the midst of all the bickering, the public simply gives up and goes back to relying on simpler sources of information, even if it is a meme on Facebook.”
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” Isaac Asimov”
“Citizens no longer understand democracy to mean a condition of political equality, in which one person gets one vote, and every individual is no more and no less equal in the eyes of the law. Rather, Americans now think of democracy as a state of actual equality, in which every opinion is as good as any other on almost any subject under the sun.”
“In a passage often cited by Western conservatives and especially loved by American libertarians, the Austrian economist F. A. Hayek wrote in 1960: “The greatest danger to liberty today comes from the men who are most needed and most powerful in modern government, namely, the efficient expert administrators exclusively concerned with what they regard as the public good.”
“The lack of metacognition sets up a vicious loop, in which people who don’t know much about a subject do not know when they’re in over their head talking with an expert on that subject. An argument ensues, but people who have no idea how to make a logical argument cannot realize when they’re failing to make a logical argument. In short order, the expert is frustrated and the layperson is insulted. Everyone walks away angry. Even”
“We’re not just associating with people more like ourselves, we’re actively breaking ties with everyone else, especially on social media. A 2014 Pew research study found that liberals are more likely than conservatives to block or unfriend people with whom they disagreed, but mostly because conservatives already tended to have fewer people with whom they disagreed in their online social circles in the first place.”
Thomas M. Nichols
- Born: The United States.
- Description: Tom Nichols is a professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and an adjunct professor in the Harvard Extension School. He also taught at Dartmouth College, Georgetown University (where he also received his PhD), and other schools and lecture programs.
He is currently a Senior Associate of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, and a Fellow of the International History Institute at Boston University.
He has also been a Fellow of the International Security Program and the Project on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
In his Washington days, Tom was a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a consultant to the U.S. government, and a research analyst for private industry. Later, he served as personal staff for foreign and defense affairs to the late U.S. Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania