Quotes to Think By: Tom Nichols and Our Coming Unmoored from Facts

The danger in being dangerously uninformed

Uninformed people elect uninformed leaders. Shaming people for their inattention or lack of information doesn’t do much to help them see the dangerous consequences. 

The danger is a disconnect, but maybe not the one you imagine. The threat begins with our coming unmoored from fact but becomes fatal by disconnecting us from the shared project of democracy. 

In his book,The Death of Expertise, Tom Nichols writes: 

“Anti-intellectualism is itself a means of short-circuiting democracy, because a stable democracy in any culture relies on the public actually understanding the implications of its own choices.

The Death of Expertise: by Tom Nichols (2017)


When we are dangerously uninformed, we see choices without considering the consequences. Tocquevilled warned us that democracy would work this way. He suggested we would trivialize the past and dismiss the future. The work of sustaining a “very stable” democracy requires working together to connect the causes, choices, and consequences of the day’s news. 

We feature quotes like this in our Questions of Civic Proportions newsletter. If you appreciate thought exercises like this one, join our newsletter list using the box below or learn more about our newsletters and find past issues here.