One of America's most respected scholars, Thomas Sowell, has just examined the mindset and biases of the intelligentsia. He exposes their frequent bad influence on public policy and society. The name of his new book is Intellectuals and Society. Dr. Sowell defines intellectuals as "people whose occupations deal primarily with ideas – writers, academics, and the like." Their work products are not subject to the everyday accountability faced by engineers, brain surgeons and scientists. Nevertheless, the intellectuals have influence since their ideas are disseminated more widely than ever by journalists, teachers, legislators, and lawyers.
According to Dr. Sowell, intellectuals often offer "solutions" to social "problems," or "raise the alarm about some dire danger they claim to have discovered." They believe their specialized expertise makes them qualified to prescribe social policies for others. But the intellectuals are not subject to restraints of the marketplace. Intellectuals rarely lose jobs or suffer loss of reputation for even their most outrageous and false positions, as long as they promote the same worldview as their peers. Dr. Thomas Sowell makes his case with lots of examples from economics, law, criminology, and foreign policy. He criticizes the intellectuals for ignoring the knowledge and experience of those for whom presume to make decisions. When the intellectuals are just plain wrong, they pay no price in money or reputation.
To those who protest that Dr. Sowell himself is an intellectual, he concedes that is true. However, he admits that, because his ideas disagree with so many liberal intellectuals, they are constantly trying to disprove Sowell. I predict they will have a hard time doing that because Thomas Sowell is a careful researcher and accurate in the evidence he cites and in his conclusions.
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