Know-It-All Society: Truth and Arrogance in Political Culture

Know-It-All Society: Truth and Arrogance in Political Culture

Taking stock of our fragmented political landscape, Michael Patrick Lynch delivers a trenchant philosophical take on digital culture and its tendency to make us into dogmatic know-it-alls. The internet—where most shared news stories are not even read by the person posting them—has contributed to the rampant spread of “intellectual arrogance.” In this culture, we have come to think that we have nothing to learn from one another; we are rewarded for emotional outrage over reflective thought; and we glorify a defensive rejection of those different from us.



Interweaving the works of classic philosophers such as Hannah Arendt and Bertrand Russell and imposing them on a cybernetic future they could not have possibly even imagined, Lynch delves deeply into three core ideas that explain how we’ve gotten to the way we are:



• our natural tendency to be overconfident in our knowledge;

• the tribal politics that feed off our tendency;

• and the way the outrage factory of social media spreads those politics of arrogance and blind conviction.



In addition to identifying an ascendant “know-it-all-ism” in our culture, Lynch offers practical solutions for how we might start reversing this dangerous trend—from rejecting the banality of emoticons that rarely reveal insight to embracing the tenets of Socrates, who exemplified the humility of admitting how little we often know about the world, to the importance of dialogue if we want to know more. With bracing and deeply original analysis, Lynch holds a mirror up to American culture to reveal that the sources of our fragmentation start with our attitudes toward truth. Ultimately, Know-It-All Society makes a powerful new argument for the indispensable value of truth and humility in democracy.

Title:Know-It-All Society: Truth and Arrogance in Political Culture
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781631493614
Format Type:

    Know-It-All Society: Truth and Arrogance in Political Culture Reviews

  • Peter Mcloughlin

    In parts philosophical, in parts political, in parts cognitive psychology and critical thinking. Mostly however it is about the everyday stance we take with our beliefs, convictions, knowledge, and hu...

  • Ryan Boissonneault

    If you had to summarize the main problem with our political culture in one sentence, you might borrow the line from Yeats that reads, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passi...

  • Peggy K.

    No one likes a know-it-all. They can quickly turn a pleasant conversation into a tedious affair. Despite their annoying propensities, they remain relatively harmless. A know-it-all society, however, c...

  • Todd Stockslager

    Review title: Truth, belief, and convictionThe Trump era in American politics has generated shelf-fulls of books explaining the incivility in American politics today, usually starting from the premise...

  • Dan Connors

    "There's nothing certain except that nothing is certain"- Montaigne"It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.", Mark Twain"Reason...

  • John Kaufmann

    Good read. The main argument is that most of us think we know more than we do, and therefore lock into tribal positions in our politics. He goes on to describe the social and psychological reasons why...

  • Garrett Glow

    I little preachy toward the end...

  • Andrew

    We are currently living in an age of extreme political polarization, where those on opposite sides of our political spectrum no longer trust those on the other side, and it seems that each side has it...

  • Mannie Liscum

    “Know-It-All Society” is a tight tour de force analysis of tribalism and associated ‘tribal arrogance’ (intellectual arrogance of tribal groups) in modern American culture. Author Michael Lync...

  • Joel Wentz

    A philosophically-astute, yet highly-readable, and insightful diagnosis of our cultural moment. Lynch deftly works through concepts like "what separates a belief from a conviction?" how to understand ...