Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell

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Synopsis

The influence of intellectuals is not only greater than in previous eras but also takes a very different form from that envisioned by those like Machiavelli and others who have wanted to directly influence rulers. It has not been by shaping the opinions or directing the actions of the holders of power that modern intellectuals have most influenced the course of events, but by shaping public opinion in ways that affect the actions of power holders in democratic societies, whether or not those power holders accept the general vision or the particular policies favored by intellectuals. Even government leaders with disdain or contempt for intellectuals have had to bend to the climate of opinion shaped by those intellectuals.

Intellectuals and Society not only examines the track record of intellectuals in the things they have advocated but also analyzes the incentives and constraints under which their views and visions have emerged. One of the most surprising aspects of this study is how often intellectuals have been proved not only wrong, but grossly and disastrously wrong in their prescriptions for the ills of society—and how little their views have changed in response to empirical evidence of the disasters entailed by those views.

 

About Thomas Sowell

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Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst, and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals and in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine, and Fortune, and he writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.
 
Published March 6, 2012 by Basic Books. 680 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, History, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Intellectuals and Society

London School of Economics

In Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell’s key charges are that intellectuals are selective with facts, dismissive and arrogant towards opposition, unaccountable and bigoted.

May 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Intellectuals and Society

London School of Economics

In Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell’s key charges are that intellectuals are selective with facts, dismissive and arrogant towards opposition, unaccountable and bigoted.

May 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Intellectuals and Society

City Journal

Sowell moves deftly back and forth from empirical evidence to a form of social philosophizing rooted in respect for “unforgiving reality,” a reality “to which we must all adjust, because it is not going to adjust to us.” He has an enviable gift for showing that many of our social problems arise f...

Jun 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Intellectuals and Society

truthdig

Edelman, 23 years old when he helped lead the April 1943 uprising, refused to hold up his actions as more moral than those who walked with their children to the gas chambers.

Nov 24 2013 | Read Full Review of Intellectuals and Society

truthdig

But thanks to plasma technology, one city’s rotting rubbish will soon release far less methane—and provide power for 50,000 homes—because of an innovation in plasma technology backed by Atlanta-based Geoplasma.

Nov 13 2008 | Read Full Review of Intellectuals and Society

Library of Economics and Liberty

The review of Sowell's book wasn't.

Feb 14 2010 | Read Full Review of Intellectuals and Society

Acton Institute

78) The other class of intellectual, according to Sowell, possesses an anointed vision, which is a belief that humanity is perfectible and the world is one large Petri dish where superior intellects can craft an earthly paradise through bold experiments: [S]ocial contrivances are the ...

| Read Full Review of Intellectuals and Society

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