If you want to listen to a book about bad things intellectuals say, this is for you. If you want to listen to a book about the effect of intellectuals on society, this is not for you.
I picked this book up because my first reaction was "oh, they're not important," and the spine says he thinks they are. He then proceeds to critique intellectualism, rather than show its import.
It's not really about "how" intellectuals influence society, it's about the annoying things lefties say and why they're annoying and why they've been wrong. Fine. So what?
Nothing in this book says a thing about whether the bad influence of intellectuals is (1) abnormal, (2) solvable, (3) important, or (4) anything else. Nor does he show how his arguments are peculiar to intellectuals - for example, he points out that lots of intellectuals supported Hitler. This is true. How many? Were there more or fewer intellectuals among his supporters than non-intellectuals? That he critiques this intellectual lapse in others and then indulges in it undermines his credibility.
When he defines intellectuals, he's very consistent (people who trade in ideas as an occupation), but he does not enforce that consistency throughout the book. You hear the definition at the beginning and end, and it's never mentioned in the middle. He has some strange lacunae in his thought regarding intellectuals - For example, he never says that economists are intellectuals, yet sometimes he says that intellectuals need to study more economics, and other times he calles Keynes and Galbraith (lefty economists) intellectuals. Similarly, it's very unclear whether he considers judges intellectuals.
Under the objetive sounding title of "intellectuals", the author specifically targets those one might label "liberal" or "leftist" and works up his annoying manifesto against them. Not a single example of those who may belong to the other end of the political spectrum, or any positive contributions of the targeted group is mentioned. One wonders whether many of the rights and privileges we enjoy would be available to us if it wasn't for those who shaped the public's opinion, the very group of people the author relentlessly and one-sidedly criticizes.
I felt the book was more interested in driving a political agenda rather than pursuing an objective research, was annoyed and couldn't wait for it to end.
Do not recommend at all.
This book would be the unintelligent, Ditto heads and people who believe anything on Fox news.
Absolutely, the reading is horrible.
He makes good points about not trusting the common wisdom and to verify the source of conventional thought.
This book is merely a rant by a rightwing biased intellectual.
He makes good points about not trusting the common wisdom and to verify the source of conventional thought. Unfortunately the Author fails to apply those standards to his own work. Maybe the physical book as end notes but as an audio book it isn’t possible to verify his assertions.
The reading is horrible.
I'm a lawyer and mediator. I represent businesses in disputes with their insurers and in other complex litigation. I also assist machinery companies and manufacturers (primarily international) with equipment sales, non-disclosure agreements, and business issues. I also mediate commercial disputes.
Thomas Sowell is one of America's greatest thinkers and this book is a great achievement. Sowell makes the case that, throughout history, we have been led into disaster again and again by intellectuals who think that they know everything. Sowell makes the point that the smartest person in the world can know only a fraction of what there is to know about everything. Yet intellectuals believe that because of their ability to know one subject and their ability grasp basic concepts in others, combined with their "verbal virtuosity" (their ability to communicate in a glib manner better than those who really are experts about particular subjects), they should be able to tell the rest of us what to do. Sowell proves that, again and again, this approach has led to disaster after disaster. Sowell's observations are particularly apt in the age of the nanny state, when lifetime politicians in Washington -- with very little experience about anything in the real world -- are constantly forcing rules and policies down our throats. Although it is not a central theme for his book, Sowell really makes the case that "the government that governs least governs best." Anyone who would challenge Sowell's observations had better bring their "A game." This should be required reading for anyone who believes government knows best, or who would undertake to impose their views on others. We are living in very scary times, and this book illustrates in great detail why we all should be very afraid.
I tried to read this book because it is good mental hygiene to read authors you don't agree with, at least when their views are based on facts and sound reasoning. But this book is just pure ideology and the author does obviously not apply to himself the standards of verification and unbiased judgment that he exacts from the intellectual class at large.
While Sowell may be making good points, I thought his ideas hypocritical. He blasted academics and intellectuals as overstepping their expertise, but his opinions of historical outcomes obviously were overstepping his expertise as well. Unless he could actually be the "annoited one".
The scales have been removed from my eyes. I have never read anything from Thomas Sowell. I knew who he was and respected his views. Also enjoyed his articles, but this book is outstanding.
Somewhat boring and very biased. It is very interesting point of view, but the author is pushing his agenda so hard that I cannot trust that he is giving his honest opinion and not trying to indoctrinate me.
I wish I could absorb and retain all the great arguments and clear analysis in this book. It captures all of the nonsense you hear on the news, that falls out of the mouths of politicians, activists, and pundits - and explains quickly and clearly why they are wrong. A very entertaining and enlightening read.
There are very few facts here and condradiction after contradiction leaves your mind spinning. The writer uses so many critical points of argument that sometimes only paragraphs later he is doing the exact same thing. Statements like, "Intellectuals never even bother to look into why China and India are successful.." then "Intellectuals make broad statements about catagories of people and what they do."