This is a study of how intellectuals as a class affect modern societies by shaping the climate of opinion in which official policies develop, on issues ranging from economics to law to war and peace.
The thesis of Intellectuals and Society is that 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.
©2009 Thomas Sowell; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Yes, I would listen to it again. this book seems to be the collection of years worth of research to back up a well observed phenomenon. Any student of history will know that intelligent people have created some of the best disasters but this book opens up the motives and thought that made it all possible. There was too much to remember from a single read.
For me the most memorable part of the book was when the author explained how numbers on statistics are manipulated to paint a desired picture, like counting the poor for decades while never counting how many people in the poor have moved to higher classes while the people who occupy the highest classes fall to lower ones at the same time. It opened my eyes to consider people as people as apposed to fixed classes that don't or can't change.
I enjoy listening to Tom Weiner on this book as he sounds somewhat like Thomas Sowell and his voice is easy to listen to as well as understand.
This book is a little to long to listen to all at once but the information that was received made me not want to shut it off.
Great book, if all of Thomas Sowell's books are as good as this one I will be listening to and reading more!
The shame of having such a well thought out defense of the right - the common sense REQUIREMENT - of people to control their own destinies is that the ones who need to read it, the intellectuals, will certainly not.
This, and all Thomas Sowell's work, uses scholarship and logic to blast through the constant emotional, seductive bombast from the big government and elitists who want to impose their brilliance upon us.
I've read many reviews of Dr. Sowell's books and I think it's a common occurrence that those who often review his books with a single star read a few summaries whereby they feel they have become knowledgeable enough to review his works. The reviewers on this page are doing a considerable disservice by writing politically charged reviews before they even read the book.
With that said, I agree with a previous reviewer that "Intellectuals and Society" is a rehashing of some of Dr. Sowell's previous works, but it is nevertheless an excellent account with contemporary additions of the history of intellectual influence on culture.
It's ironic that the reviewer who called Dr. Sowell "anti-intellectual" was actually contributing to the truth of his thesis that intellectuals are not in favor of intellectual history, they are only in favor of promoting their own particular world view.
The ideas have been hashed out in many of his previous works, but some of the contemporary additions are worth the buy. If you have never read Thomas Sowell, "Intellectuals and Society" is an excellent introduction as it is very accessible.
This book is a must read for everyone, both Right and Left. The Right will agree with almost everything in this book. The Left, well if you have an open mind, you might learn a thing or two.
A good companion to this book would be Hayek's "Intellectuals and Socialism" and Mises "Liberalism" and "Socialism." I'd r also recommend reading Conflict of Visions, before this book, since Dr. Sowell pulls a lot of material from it.
I listened to Intellectuals and Society after Economic Fallacies and was not disappointed. It should be noted that the book is not anti-intellectual. Rather, it argues that membership in the intelligentsia does not render one immune to group think and confirmation bias. Sowell gives historical examples of intellectuals promoting ideology that flies in the face of the facts. His readers are encouraged to be accountable for what they accept as true.
This book shows the folly of what happens when it's easier to concentrate power than knowledge -- social engineering that backfires.
"Intellectuals" "who romanticize cultures which leave the world in poverty, disease and chaos, trash cultures that lead the world in prosperity, medical advances and law and order." They look the other way when masses flee societies they romanticize. They look away when tough stances against aggression may nip war in the bud and wait until the bombs are falling on them to act. They encourage the poor to blame poverty on the rich, a tragically detrimental view that discourages the self-examination that might lead them to make fundamental changes in their own lives instead.
The group he focuses on are the people whose narrow view is limited to the wrongs they see around them and attribute to some evil in the American system. Yet they ignore the broad perspective of human behavior and cultures in their context. This leads to seriously flawed thinking and social experiments we're better off without.
Well supported and thoughtfully presented.
Thomas Sowell does it again! He possesses a remarkable ability to identify and explain complex ideas in a manner that is accessible to anyone. This book is packed with insights and examples, bound with inescapable logic. I highly recommend this book to anyone!
This book also explains the trouble Americans have found themselves with our political systems.
Ayn Rand's book on capitalism should also be read by students.
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