- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 22 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 14 Jan. 2010
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003836L6S
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
- #81 in Books > Audible Audiobooks > Nonfiction > Politics & Current Affairs > Political History & Theory
- #708 in Books > Audible Audiobooks > Nonfiction > Social Sciences
- #1708 in Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Government & Politics > Political Science & Ideology > Political Science > History
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Intellectuals and Society Audiobook – Unabridged
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The intellectuals whom Sowell refers to are generally left-wing thinkers and politicians, and Sowell makes little attempt to hide his right-wing opinions, particularly noticeable in the chapter on economics, where he appears to show a level of faith in the ability of economic markets to regulate themselves that is somewhat surprising given that this book was in fact published after the onset of the current financial crisis.
Nonetheless, despite the fact that some, including myself, may find Sowells implicit political opinions somewhat rigid, his arguments for the detrimental effects of intellectuals are throughout the vast majority of the book very sound. He particularly points out that these intellectuals often show surprisingly bad track records in terms of empirical results, and that they fail to adjust their opinions accordingly. Amongst the examples given are pacifism and appeasement politics, market regulation, military deterrence, crime reduction et al. Sowell convincingly demonstrates, both by reference to particular individuals and by reference to general political climate, that a considerable group of otherwise renowned intellectuals have espoused opinions which turned out to yield blatantly disastrous results, and importantly, that the intellectual establishment have failed to properly reflect on these failures of their own thinking.
Apart from considering the actual track record of intellectuals, Sowell also theorizes about the nature of intellectuals, particularly about the institutions which makes it possible for intellectuals to disregard empirical evidence against their ideas. These discussions create a framework for understanding the examples and particular discussions given throughout the book, and constitute a major part of the original thinking set forth by Sowell in the book.
The book is also very well-written, concise and readable. I found it one of the most thought-provoking works I have read in several years. I would furthermore point out that the rather obvious political bias of Sowell, which one may or may not agree with, in no way should detract from the fact that the ideas stated in the book are highly original, well researched and extremely interesting. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in critical thinking about modern society and its political climate.
Exposing intellectuals both public and non for the hypocritical, wrong headed, fools that not only do not seek emoiric evidence but seem to enjoy going against the evidence, it seems that they gain more popularity the more they are wrong in the public eye.
These intellectuals can usually be found in the halls of academia, although admittedly not always, where they have a captive, rather than captivated, body of students in the lecture halls. They sneak out of their PhD's and attack various topics and ideas of which they have little to no knowledge. Some pass commentary on the state of the economy and the poor situation, having never picked up an economic textbook nor attended one class. Others such as Dawkins, no doubt brilliant in his field of Biology has never the less decided to write books on religion, documentaries on religion, of which he has very little knowledge and his research is extremely tardy when held against that of religious scholars!
I loved this book, not because it took intellectuals and shook them by the throat, but rather it showed me these intellectuals really aren't all that intellectual once we strip away the verbiage. It also showed me I can follow intellectual pursuits, my way, the right way, with solid research, empiric evidence to support my claims and to follow intellectualism as apassion for the truth, not a short cut to fame.
I would recommend this to anyone, except maybe an intellectual, I fear their inflated ego's could not bear the intellectual drubbing it will suffer!
Many books I've read have touched on these ideas and pointed out their stupidity, but few have really burrowed inside the mind of those who propose them. Thomas Sowell's brilliant book does precisely that, and much more besides. He analyses the reasoning (or lack of) behind the views of liberal intellectuals, and explains their motivations and aims. More importantly, he exposes the liberal-left worldview as a pretext for creating in world in which they play a more influential role, and which allows them to showcase their moral, intellectual and emotional superiority.
Sowell's arguments, backed by detailed evidence and historical references, are so clear and convincing that all but the most blinkered leftist could fail to read it without reflecting on the ingenuous, self-serving and destructive nature of his beliefs.
Sadly, as Sowell points out, the liberal intelligentsia tend to dispense with facts and opinions that don't endorse their own version of how the world works, so they are unlikely to risk reading this book. If they do, it will be with a determination to ignore or refute everything Sowell has to say. However, for anyone with an interest in the mindset of those who presume to tell us how to live, this is essential reading.
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