LISTEN: "People are lying to themselves in both parties"

The 2016 election "was a choice between two really bad candidates," says author Tom Nichols

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published August 1, 2017 5:00PM (EDT)

Donald Trump; Tom Nichols; Hilary Clinton (Getty/Olivier Douliery/Chip Somodevilla/Harvard)
Donald Trump; Tom Nichols; Hilary Clinton (Getty/Olivier Douliery/Chip Somodevilla/Harvard)

Professor Tom Nichols joined me recently for a conversation on this week’s edition of “The Chauncey DeVega Show.” He is the author of the new book “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters.”

In our conversation, Nichols shared his insights about how the election of Donald Trump is part of a larger cultural problem in America with greed and ignorance, the allure of conspiracy theories, the power of anti-intellectualism and the ways that the internet has led to a lack of respect for true expertise and knowledge.

"The commodification of knowledge has vulgarized our taste in knowledge, the same way that the fast food revolution vulgarized our taste in food. We’ve become childlike in our expectations of how we learn things," Nichols told me.

"This is where technology is a problem. The way we surf the internet is, in fact, reordering the neurons in our brain. Children are now learning not to read, they’re learning to search and scan and take visual cues off a screen. It makes their tolerance for reading lower and lower and lower. I’ve taught at a half a dozen universities, and the one thing I’ve noticed is that the students’ capacity for sustained reading has been dropping, practically in a straight line."

During this week's episode of the podcast, historian John Broich also stops by to share his thoughts about Christopher Nolan's new movie "Dunkirk."

You’ll also hear my thoughts about Donald Trump's recent very special week where he told Boy Scouts about his very rich friend's orgy on a yacht, encouraged America's out of control police to brutalize black and brown people (i.e. "suspects"), and shared torture porn stories about how drug gangs are ravaging good and innocent (white) American women.

By Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a senior politics writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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