Kresta in the Afternoon – January 12, 2018 – Hour 2

+  You’re Entitled to your Own Opinion, but Not Your Own Facts

  • Description: A strange story surfaced recently: a man in California is building a homemade rocket out of scrap metal, which he plans to use to launch himself 1,800 feet high and take pictures that will prove the Earth is really flat. He's part of a recently-resurgent "flat earth" movement that is apparently unconvinced by several centuries of scientific consensus that the Earth is, in fact, round. This is an altogether innocuous example of a much larger, more disturbing trend that has been labeled the Death of Expertise. Under this phenomenon, WebMD and Wikipedia are considered just as reliable as renowned doctors and experts, who are accused of "elitism." We'll talk more about this Death of Expertise and its effect on society with Tom Nichols.
  • Segment Guests:
    • Tom Nichols
      Tom Nichols is the author of the Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. He's a professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College and an Adjunct Professor at Harvard Extension School.
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    • The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters

      People are now exposed to more information than ever before, provided both by technology and by increasing access to every level of education. These societal gains, however, have also helped fuel a surge in narcissistic and misguided intellectual egalitarianism that has crippled informed debates on any number of issues. Today, everyone knows everything: with only a quick trip through WebMD or Wikipedia, average citizens believe themselves to be on an equal intellectual footing with doctors and diplomats. All voices, even the most ridiculous, demand to be taken with equal seriousness, and any claim to the contrary is dismissed as undemocratic elitism. As Tom Nichols shows in The Death of Expertise, this rejection of experts has occurred for many reasons, including the openness of the internet, the emergence of a customer satisfaction model in higher education, and the transformation of the news industry into a 24-hour entertainment machine. Paradoxically, the increasingly democratic dissemination of information, rather than producing an educated public, has instead created an army of ill-informed and angry citizens who denounce intellectual achievement. Nichols has deeper concerns than the current rejection of expertise and learning, noting that when ordinary citizens believe that no one knows more than anyone else, democratic institutions themselves are in danger of falling either to populism or to technocracy-or in the worst case, a combination of both. The Death of Expertise is not only an exploration of a dangerous phenomenon but also a warning about the stability and survival of modern democracy in the Information Age. (learn more)

+  Teen Mental Health is Declining - Are Smartphones to Blame? (2 segments)

  • Description: Between the years of 2010 and 2015, the number of US teens who felt useless and joyless- classic signs of depression - surged by 33%. Teen suicide attempts increased 23%, and the number of teens who committed suicide jumped by 31%. These trends cover every background and demographic all across the country. What happened? These teens are part of the generation Dr. Jean Twenge calls "iGen," – those who have grown up surrounded by smartphones, social media, and nonstop internet access. Is there a link between smartphone use and teen depression? Jean joins us with more.
  • Segment Guests:
    • Dr. Jean Twenge
      Jean Twenge is the author of iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy - and Completely Unprepared for. She's a professor of psychology at San Diego State. Visit
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    • iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us

      A highly readable and entertaining first look at how today’s members of iGen—the children, teens, and young adults born in the mid-1990s and later—are vastly different from their Millennial predecessors, and from any other generation, from the renowned psychologist and author of Generation Me. With generational divides wider than ever, parents, educators, and employers have an urgent need to understand today’s rising generation of teens and young adults. Born in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s and later, iGen is the first generation to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. With social media and texting replacing other activities, iGen spends less time with their friends in person—perhaps why they are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. But technology is not the only thing that makes iGen distinct from every generation before them; they are also different in how they spend their time, how they behave, and in their attitudes toward religion, sexuality, and politics. They socialize in completely new ways, reject once sacred social taboos, and want different things from their lives and careers. More than previous generations, they are obsessed with safety, focused on tolerance, and have no patience for inequality. iGen is also growing up more slowly than previous generations: eighteen-year-olds look and act like fifteen-year-olds used to. As this new group of young people grows into adulthood, we all need to understand them: Friends and family need to look out for them; businesses must figure out how to recruit them and sell to them; colleges and universities must know how to educate and guide them. And members of iGen also need to understand themselves as they communicate with their elders and explain their views to their older peers. Because where iGen goes, so goes our nation—and the world. (learn more)

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