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Intellectuals and Society: Revised and Expanded Edition Paperback – March 6, 2012
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“Sowell takes aim at the class of people who influence our public debate, institutions, and policy. Few of Sowell’s targets are left standing at the end, and those who are stagger back to their corner, bloody and bruised.”
“Mr. Sowell builds a devastating case against the leftist antiwar political and intellectual establishment."
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|Length: 4:46 Mins|
In each area, Mr. Sowell's complaint is that intellectuals -- "people whose occupations deal primarily with ideas - writers, academics, and the like" - are having negative effects. And, maddeningly, these intellectuals are "unaccountable to the external world," immune from sanction, insulated even from the loss of reputation that those in other fields suffer after having been proven wrong.
The reputation of certain intellectuals may not be quite so immune after Mr. Sowell has finished with them, because he is withering in assessing and recording their failures.
The newspapers take it particularly hard from Mr. Sowell, and not just the American ones. There was the Daily Telegraph's prediction that Hitler would be gone before the end of 1932, and the Times of London's description of the Nazi dictator as a "moderate." Add to this a New York Times column issued by Tom Wicker on the collapse of the Communist bloc, cautioning, "that Communism has failed does not make the Western alternative perfect, or even satisfying for millions of those who live under it."
This book does a wonderful job at marshalling facts to puncture commonly held notions of intellectuals and others who tend to be political liberals. It'd be hard to think the same way about income inequality ever again after reading Mr. Sowell's tremendously clear explanation of confusion between income and wealth and "confusion between statistical categories and flesh-and-blood human beings." By the time Mr. Sowell is done, the confusion is gone.Read more ›
This book contains a plethora of examples of how many high profile intellectuals in the media and academia have been proven wrong- but without losing credibility among their peers or target audience. This is a serious problem because intellectuals affect public opinion, and with it public policy. Intellectuals of the past successfully agitated for defective policies: for so-called protectionism, living wages, and social justice has hindered economic progress. The naïve attitude that some intellectuals have had towards totalitarian movements proved disastrous. Yet many of the same defective arguments from earlier periods are still in use by today's intellectuals.
Sowell does a good job of illustrating the pernicious influence of leftist intellectuals. What is less clear is why opposing intellectuals, like Sowell himself, have not been more successful. Is there a simple lack of data among certain people? Does ideology cause a lack of cognitive dissonance? Are there self-serving reasons for spreading faulty theories, visions, or data? These are an important question, the answers to which will tell us if we need better education or a better vision (or maybe both). The fact of the matter is that this book does help to discredit certain intellectuals, and this is an important next step. Unfortunately, it will be read least by those who need to most urgently: those who are routinely swayed by defective ideas need to read this book, but how many of them will?
Mr. Sowell is further very careful to credit intellectuals who have made a mark in their specific core knowledge or field and only faults them when (believing themselves intellectually superior and apparently all-knowing) they opine on things over which they have no expertise (in some cases) or on which they are wholy ignorant (in others). Therefore, scientists that have created or discovered cures for previously deadly diseases are to be commended; similarly, writers whose "verbal virtuosity" separates them from the rest ought to be commended for their cleverness. When they apply that cleverness to mistaken notions is when they become dangerous.
It is precisely those notions that this book sets out to examine.* In the process, undeniably, Mr. Sowell slaughters many of the Left's sacred cows.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When things go wrong, politicians face flak, even though the intellectuals exercise a much deeper influence on national and international affairs. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Anoop Verma
This is the best book I've read in years. Like all Sowell's books it reads well and is highly informative, but this one is more complete than most of his others.Published 1 month ago by abcdefg
Eye opening critique of the marxist take over of universities and the media. A must read for anyone that wants to see how the left operates....Published 1 month ago by Rudiger
I had no prior familiarity with Thomas Sowell or his writings or philosophy. He advances an interesting concept when dividing intellectuals into one of two opposing camps: either... Read morePublished 3 months ago by mrthinkndrink
Sowell methodically presents the means, methods, motives and absurdities of intellectuals; the harm they inflict on society; the existence and cause of their arrogance; and the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Harvey Cody
I regard this as the most important book of the decade. It needs wider dissemination.Published 7 months ago by Fred Taylor
This book was simply a smear campaign. Grasping at straws, the author composed a book solely for the means of boosting his political persuausion. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Colin houle