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Intellectuals and Society Audiobook

Intellectuals and Society

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Publisher's Summary

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.

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  •  
    Roger Idaho Falls, ID, United States 06-26-15
    Roger Idaho Falls, ID, United States 06-26-15 Member Since 2010
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    "I just kept agreeing with him."

    What an excellent book!

    Our country is hemmed in by self described know it alls whose work is never tested and whose mistakes are always forgotten. The unholy trinity of education, mainstream media and government have a strangle hold on our nation. I fear this will only worsen as universities get more left wing and their products take their place in media and government.

    Oddly enough, the only hope is the economic crash that I see coming as budget deficits cause massive debt leading to hyperinflation. Then we will be able to rebuild absent the heavy weight of government. People who can actually DO something will be valued in those times.

    If you want to see the argument for my conclusions, read or listen to this book.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mikey72 Highland Mills, NY USA 04-09-14
    Mikey72 Highland Mills, NY USA 04-09-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Thomas Sowell's clarity of thought is a gift"
    What did you love best about Intellectuals and Society?

    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.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benjamin San Marcos, CA, Virgin Islands, U.S. 02-10-10
    Benjamin San Marcos, CA, Virgin Islands, U.S. 02-10-10
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    "Ignore the Leftists who review based off Summaries"

    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.

    35 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn 10-23-11
    Shawn 10-23-11
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    "Pro-intellectual"

    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.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Levi C. Kruse 04-19-14
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    "Intelligent"
    Would you listen to Intellectuals and Society again? Why?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Intellectuals and Society?

    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.


    What about Tom Weiner’s performance did you like?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    Great book, if all of Thomas Sowell's books are as good as this one I will be listening to and reading more!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin Little Rock, AR, USA 04-25-10
    Justin Little Rock, AR, USA 04-25-10
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    "A Must Read"

    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.

    18 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    The Lifelong Learner 01-30-11
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    "Flawed thinking creates flawed social experiments"

    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.

    9 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Sterne Langley, BC Canada 06-05-17
    John Sterne Langley, BC Canada 06-05-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Great book. Wisdom and insightful truths portrayed"

    This was a great book. Sowell is brilliant!
    Truth hurts when weirded against those whose only claim to fame, and whose sense of right and wrong are derived exclusively from like minded peer review and agreement.
    This book exposes the truth behind the arguments of the established intelligencia and its often fatal downfall of not being able to stand up to real world testing, or auditable results based outcome analysis.

    Sowell quite correctly points out that left wing Intellectuals purport that victimhood is an acceptable even required context through which the poor, racial minorities along with ender and sexual orientation based arguments find moral justification. Particularly in the case of the impoverished. Theorys, and arguments which don't hold up under further scrutiny, but whose justification comes from the very process of like minded peer confirmation that gave rise to the ideas in the first place. Talk about "overfitting" on a societal scale!

    Sowell's points are clear and we'll articulated. The book is well written if just a tiny bit long winded...

    I hope he writes another on the same subjects delving deeper into the counterfactual nature of intellectuals(in this context) arguments.

    I'd really like to see reasoning and outcomes win out over our long history of good moral intent and disastrous results brought upon our world from the minds of those who may mean well, but whose opinions don't stand up to scientific and outcome based testing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David M Blackwell Kansas City 05-17-17
    David M Blackwell Kansas City 05-17-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Intellectual Treatise On Anti-Intellectualism"

    When I first saw the title and description, I expected a very different book. In this book the author indulges in every kind of fallacy he accuses intellectuals of abusing in the same self conceited manner he attributes to them as a class. His increasingly vituperative invective and ad hominem proof of the merits of his own ideals serves as a grating reminder of his failure to provide any legitimate supporting evidence for his positions. His juxtaposition of cherry-picked statistics from different historical periods is glaringly obvious, as is the utter lack of context beyond a superficial conceptual congruence with his preconceptions. Over the course of seventeen excruciating chapters he constructs a straw man of epic proportions, concluding that the opposition of intellectual ideology proves that his positions in support of racism, nationalism, and against social justice are the only reasonable conclusion.

    The narrator does provide an effective voice to the authors hateful diatribe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L.W. 04-17-17
    L.W. 04-17-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Wow!"

    I never could have guessed the extent of modern America's brainwashing by intellectuals! Sowell has included a vast body of evidence to substantiate his claims, and I intend to buy a hard copy for reference.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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