Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

The Death of Expertise with Tom Nichols

Air Dates: January 20-26, 2020

In a meeting on Capitol Hill 15 years ago, a respected foreign policy analyst said that most national security assessments out of Washington ignored the elephant in the room: the United States and the impact of our domestic politics on the state of the world.  While Tom Nichols wasn’t in the room that day, he brings a rigorous analytical mind steeped in national security to his analysis of the world around us. 

Nichols is a U.S. Naval War College University Professor, and an adjunct professor at both the U.S. Air Force School of Strategic Force Studies and the Harvard Extension School.  He specializes in Russian affairs, nuclear strategy, NATO issues, and is a nationally-known commentator on U.S. politics and national security.  Nichols was a staff member in the United States Senate, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Harvard Kennedy School, and previously taught at Dartmouth, La Salle University, and Georgetown.  He is also a five-time undefeated ‘Jeopardy!’ champion, and was noted in the ‘Jeopardy!’ Hall of Fame after his 1994 appearances as one of the all-time best players of the game.  Nichols is the author of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters.”

On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Nichols describes the rise of anti-expertise sentiments which he credits with today’s unparalleled access to information.  He says that while technology has helped facilitate global peace through greater connectedness, it has also “flooded us with cheap, easy information that actually confirms us in our biases [and] makes us lazy in seeking better information.”  Nichols says the internet is structured to reward instantaneous opinions, which he adds, “indulges a certain amount of narcissism.”

“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

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