George Orwell famously said some things are so foolish that only an intellectual could believe them, for no ordinary man could be such a fool.
Thomas Sowell has made a career out of debunking those very things—most famously elite assumptions about racism and economics in classic books like Ethnic America, Race and Culture, Knowledge and Decisions, and The Vision of the Annointed.
I’ve often defined a postmodern intellectual as someone who is trained to be sure he knows better. Thomas Sowell, however, is a true intellectual in the best sense. His mind is not only open to the fact that he might not know better, his superb new book explains why it is impossible for one dictator or a small group of elites to know better than the great unwashed how to run their lives.
A constant theme of Sowell’s work is that elites regularly—and with disastrous effect—substitute their assumptions for the actual on the ground knowledge of the masses of people. In Intellectuals and Society, he singles out so-called “intellectuals,” those whose profession is trafficking in ideas, and the echo chamber they tend to inhabit.
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