• Intellectuals and Society

    linked to by 2 published by Basic Books on Fri 1st Jan 10
    Thomas Sowell

    ISBN 046501948X

    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.

  • Posts discussing this item

    • Thomas Sowell on intellectuals and society

      posted to Anti-Dismal on Mon 11th Jan 10

      From the Hoover Institution and The National Review Online comes this series of videos in which the great economist Thomas Sowell introduces his new book, Intellectuals and Society. Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy

    • My Sowell-mate on the Knowledge-Power Discrepancy, by Arnold Kling

      posted to EconLog on Mon 4th Jan 10

      Unchecked and Unbalanced is about the discrepancy between knowledge and power. Thomas Sowell's latest book, Intellectuals and Society, is about the same phenomenon. (Guess which one is selling better on Amazon.) If my many blog posts on the problem of trusting