Are some Americans now proud of being dumb?

A North Carolina man walks into a popular Washington D.C. pizzeria and opens fire, telling police upon his inevitable arrest that he came to “self-investigate” a widely debunked conspiracy theory involving former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

In Hollywood, actress and model Jenny McCarthy and others wage a campaign against mandatory vaccinations for children, despite mountains of evidence showing they’re the key to preventing debilitating childhood diseases.

At the dinner table, your loudmouthed uncle holds forth on the events of the day, insisting he’s right and refusing to accept counter-arguments, even as he mangles facts and disregards clear truths.

Separately, these are amusing — and maybe a little disturbing — anecdotes.

But taken together, they’re part of “the death of expertise,” a stubborn insistence by the ignoramuses in our midst that everyone is as smart as everyone else; that expert opinion is meaningless and that any attempt to dismiss such claims is just “elitism.”

Tom Nichols, a former staffer to the late Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. John Heinz, and a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., stirred the pot of debate this summer with his new book, sensibly titled, “The Death of Expertise: The campaign against established knowledge and why it matters.”

Despite having access to more information than ever before, Americans are not only getting dumber, they’re also proud of their ignorance and can’t be moved off their opinions ­— no matter how effective the counter-argument with which they’re presented.

“The bigger problem is we’re proud of not knowing things,” Nichols writes. “Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of any public policy issue, is an actual virtue.”

He lays blame for this phenomenon in a couple of places.

Among them, the fever swamp of the internet where “confirmation bias” reigns supreme, the galaxy of “news” sources that exist to reaffirm and stoke those prejudices, and on college and university campuses, where students become “clients” to be coddled rather than challenged.

The “death of expertise” trend reached its absolute apogee in 2016 when billionaire Donald Trump, who pushed the debunked “birther” conspiracy involving President Barack Obama, won the White House.

Trump, who has been caught in seemingly countless fibs and fabrications since, screams “fake news” at the slightest criticism.

So where does that leave us? Are we just doomed to get dumber and dumber until the flow chart of human intelligence looks like the “Ascent of Man” drawn in reverse?

Unfortunately, according to Nichols, the answer is “Probably, yeah.”

“My concern is that this won’t end until a populist fad like anti-vaccines cause a disaster. Diplomacy will come back as a skill when we face war — or are in one,” he said. “Populism always drives itself into the ditch, and experts always have to fix it. It’s one of the reasons people resent experts; we’re the people who generally have to repair the damage on the morning after.”

In other news

“What do you want to do after high school?” every adult figure the moment you get into high school asks. I personally have been asked this question by my own grandmother several times. Now, I will answer it not just her but, well, for all the adults out there who wonder, “What is this 16-yea…

Everyone tends to have different plans as to what they want their lives to be like as they grow older. For some, going to a two- or four-year college is what they plan to do after high school in order to obtain a degree in the profession they’d like to be in. For others, trade school is all …

Life after high school or college can be frightening for many students. It is a new beginning. You are now on your own and figuring out how to live on your own. Personally, I have a little bit of an idea of what I am wanting to do after high school, but not everything is set in stone. I am a…

Every teenager knows the dread that comes when someone asks, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Well, for many of us, myself included, that question is getting a little too real. Now when we reply, we have to be a little more realistic because in just a few short years, we will be gr…

Figuring out what you’re doing after high school isn’t an easy feat. There are so many options in front of you that it can get to be overwhelming. Four year colleges, two year colleges and going into the workforce are just a few options to consider when deciding what to do after high school.…

Jimmy Johns