Welcome to the age of incompetence. Roberto Saviano meets Tom Nichols

July 13, 2018
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How is it possible that knowledge and expertise have become things to be wary of? Why is it that on topics like migrants, data seems to have less impact than the feeling of being invaded? Is knowledge still the key to solving conflicts and social tensions?  What should experts do in an era marked by their lowest popular consensus?

Roberto Saviano came to LUISS University to interview Tom Nichols, US Naval War College and Harvard Extension School professor, author of the book La conoscenza e i suoi nemici. L’era dell’incompetenza e i rischi per la democrazia, LUISS University Press, 2018 (The Death of Expertise, Oxford University Press, 2017).

According to Saviano, Nichols’ book is “taking on the mother of all topics … It aims to address those who are highly distrustful of experts. It is a poetic elegy of love to those who still believe in research and who maintain that knowledge is still the only means to solving conflicts”.

When asked how we might overcome this realm of ignorance and the deep resentment presently shown towards experts, Nichols replies: “My advice to experts is, as difficult as it is, to stand firm when the winds of ignorance and populism blow in your face, because you have a responsibility… I think that a revolt of the experts has begun”.


The authors

Roberto Saviano is a journalist and writer. He is the author of international bestsellers such as Gomorrah and ZeroZeroZero

Tom Nichols is Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School and author of the book The Death of Expertise, Oxford University Press 2017 (La conoscenza e i suoi nemici, LUISS University Press, 2018).