December 25, 2012

"The more I study the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit — replacing what works with what sounds good."

Writes Thomas Sowell, in a column called "On Christmas, Liberals Are By No Means Liberal."
After watching a documentary about the tragic story of Jonestown, I was struck by the utterly unthinking way that so many people put themselves completely at the mercy of a glib and warped man, who led them to degradation and destruction. And I could not help thinking of the parallel with the way we put a glib and warped man in the White House.
Wow. That's harsh.

Here's the documentary about Jonestown. And here's Sowell's excellent book "Intellectuals and Society."

81 comments:

rhhardin said...

I'd have said piece of shit for warped and glib. Sowell gives him the benefit of the doubt.

Unknown said...

Harsh but accurate. Obama is one sick puppy.

Unknown said...

Harsh but accurate. Obama is one sick puppy.

Danno said...

I like Thomas Sowell. He calls them as he sees them. And the libtard media cannot play the race card on him. Too bad he is not President! But if a conservative black ran for the Presidency, I am sure the Dems and the media would arrange a hi-tech lynching for him much like Clarence Thomas received when going through the confirmation process for SCOTUS.

pm317 said...

I don't think it is harsh at all. There was a level of deception unheard of from all quarters, press/media, his campaign and he, himself in leading people astray and under false pretense -- it was not about his policies and what he wanted to do for this country but it was all about electing somebody "like him". It was an obsession in electing somebody like him which Sowell so well captures. Not harsh at all. Let competence, merit, and accomplishments go to hell.

Here is a taste of that obsession from the lefty liberals and their propaganda machine: "Frankly, I worry that enemies of Senator Obama will seize upon details like his grandfather’s Islamic faith or his father’s polygamy to portray him as an alien or a threat to American values."

pm317 said...

Never forget the mindless adulation especially from the (college dropout) mediawhores that is still going on even as of today.

edutcher said...

Glib is certainly the right word; warped, I'm not so sure.

But his larger point is interesting, placing "intellectuals" among the drones. "Thinkers", I'm guessing (Aristotle, Da Vinci), he would place among the workers.

Tregonsee said...

Much like fire, "intellectuals" make better servants (to society) than masters.

rhhardin said...

Then there's Glib's phenomenon, where overshoots never decline no matter how wide you make the communication channel.

MarkD said...

Jonestown had zero effect on my life. I wish I could say the same about the charlatan in the White House.

pm317 said...

Tregonsee said...

Much like fire, "intellectuals" make better servants (to society) than masters.
-------------------

Funny you should say that because it rings true from the perspective of another entirely different culture half a world away. From India and its caste system -- Brahmins were regarded as the intellectual class and historically they were never thought of as ruling class material but only as part of an advisory class.

victoria said...

I don't think that George W. Bush was as bad as Jim Jones, almost as bad but not as bad.


Vicki from Pasadena

victoria said...

Oh, by the way, how did your candidate do in the election in November???? Lost, you're darn right.


Vicki From Pasadena

Michael K said...

" Blogger victoria said...

Oh, by the way, how did your candidate do in the election in November???? Lost, you're darn right."

That's actually the subject, or didn't you get it? Have a Merry Christmas, if you can with that bile.

Poor losers we understand, but poor winners ?

Sam L. said...

Vicky, Vicky, Vicky...how sad for you.

Phil 3:14 said...

Isn't Sowell a professor at a prestigious private university? Doesn't he write researched books on weighty topics?
Isn't he an intellectual?

pm317 said...

So "Bush was terrible.. let us elect another equally terrible president but don't blame us because you did too" -- that is vicky in a nutshell (in more ways than one).

But many of us only wanted just a competent guy or gal who can do the job not another floundering nincompoop.

Lem said...

"replacing what works with what sounds good."

Good sound is light as carry on and brings the advantage of instant gratification... while "what works" bears the heavy burden demanded by trial and error.

Seven Machos said...

Well, Phil nails it. Sowell is decidedly an intellectual. And the West has a long history of intellectuals -- productive, disastrous, and both simultaneously.

Jesus is one of the West's greatest intellectuals, so it's fitting that we talk of intellectuals today.

Also, Paul Johnson's book on the subject is amazing.

Merry Christmas!

Richard Head said...

"The more I study the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit -- replacing what works with what sounds good."

Intellectuals don't operate by instituting "what sounds good". That is a contradiction of terms.

Implementing "what sounds good" is the hallmark of the Emotional, whose rule is Irrational. Liberals are not intellectuals, most are beset with psychoses upon which they base their decisions.

"Yet the ignorant expect others to take them seriously." AND when others don't, they scream all the louder for attention, and act out until the sane, rational, intellectuals are wore out and give in to their demands.

Hence: "Annual outbursts of intolerance", is an ingrained tactic of the Irrational to get their way - to the detriment of civilized Society.

pm317 said...

Liberals are not intellectuals,

Thanks for reminding me of this. I in fact used to call them pseudo-intellectuals (like my physicist brother -- yeah, he is a big liberal intellectual, academician back home).

Lem said...

When "what works" doesn't necessarily look good... deception does the trick.

Clyde said...

Beware the nakedly narcissistic man who offers you his Kool-Aid. That fiscal cliff he's leading you to has rocks at the bottom.

Gahrie said...

History is not going to be kind to President Obama.....

Freeman Hunt said...

History is not going to be kind to President Obama.....

Oh, I don't know. The Chinese people who write it might like him, though probably not being his being such an intellectual.

Richard Head said...

Thanks for reminding me of this. I in fact used to call them pseudo-intellectuals (like my physicist brother -- yeah, he is a big liberal intellectual, academician back home).

Submit your evidence by proclamation rather than substantive proof. It is much easier, and nobody will know the difference anyway.

edutcher said...

victoria said...

Oh, by the way, how did your candidate do in the election in November???? Lost, you're darn right.

No, he won. The Lefties stole the election.

Robert Cook said...

"Here is a taste of that obsession from the lefty liberals and their propaganda machine: 'Frankly, I worry that enemies of Senator Obama will seize upon details like his grandfather’s Islamic faith or his father’s polygamy to portray him as an alien or a threat to American values.'"

I'm certainly no fan of Mr. Obama, who I agree is glib and probably warped to some degree--certainly warped enough to carry on with America's murder of people around the globe while wiping away a crocodile tear eulogizing the children killed recently by a madman in Connecticut--but it is indisputable that enemies of Mr. Obama did (and still do, to a degree) "seize upon details like his grandfather’s Islamic faith or his father’s polygamy to portray him as an alien or a threat to American values."

The fact is, Obama reflects perfectly America's values: obeisance to wealth and power, and the endless pursuit of same by war and other means. Obama is no less a lackey to the financiers and war profiteers who determine this nation's policies than were his predecessors.

Robert Cook said...

No, eddie, Mitt lost, indisputably. Too many Americans recognized him as just another insincere hustler, a rich guy still hungry for more...in this case, for power and self-aggrandizement. Mitt is a used car salesman born into a prominent family, but he can't rid himself of that "used car salesman smell."

Robert Cook said...

"I in fact used to call them pseudo-intellectuals (like my physicist brother -- yeah, he is a big liberal intellectual, academician back home)."

So, which is it? Do you have brother issues or do you just feel uncomfortable around smart people?

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pm317 said...

Take that, Vicky!

pm317 said...

So, which is it? Do you have brother issues or do you just feel uncomfortable around smart people?

Neither.

Pookie Number 2 said...

I don't think Obama is warped. He's just neither curious nor honest enough to ask whether there could be an in obvious cost to all of the wonderful things he wants to do.

Richard Head said...

The Obama-Tribe 'Curvature of Constitutional Space' Paper is Crackpot Physics

The Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe published a paper entitled "The Curvature of Constitutional Space," wherein he argued that the strict constructionist interpretations of the U.S. Constitution were obsolete, being based on a Newtonian world-view, and need to be replaced by a more modern relativistic and quantum mechanical world-view. I shall show on the contrary that in using general relativity and quantum mechanics, we have never left the Newtonian world-view.

Laurence Tribe - Liberal Crackpot Physicists

Tribe's physics is not post-Newtonian but pre-Newtonian, the physics of Aristotle, in which the arbitrary will of the powerful is the dominant influence in reality. Tribe's politics is, like his physics, profoundly reactionary, replacing unalterable law with the ever changing personal preferences of judges. As I shall demonstrate, the recent Boumedienne vs. Bush decision is a particularly egregious example of such replacement. Furthermore, Tribe's main books on Constitutional law are adversely influenced by his bad physics.

DADvocate said...

Poor losers we understand, but poor winners ?

A poor winners is a certain sign of a warped mind.

DADvocate said...

Isn't Sowell a professor at a prestigious private university? Doesn't he write researched books on weighty topics?
Isn't he an intellectual?


Yes, yes, and yes. But, he knows the true value of intellectualism and doesn't proclaim it the answer to everything.

pm317 said...

Isn't he an intellectual?

He is not a pseudo-intellectual. I get a chuckle out of writing that. I used to use that term some 25 years ago and had all but forgotten about it.

DADvocate said...

a rich guy still hungry for more...in this case, for power and self-aggrandizement.

Wow. You sure are warped. As if Obama isn't the most hungry for power and self-aggrandizement of any president in history.

SMSgt Mac said...


Prof. Sowell distinguishes between intellectual thought and intellectuals:
"The crucial thing is there is virtually no external constraint on what the intellectuals do. They may believe in anything, say anything, and the consequences don’t matter."

Jake Diamond said...

No, he won. The Lefties stole the election.

I guess Santa didn't bring sanity or rationality to edumbshit this year.

John said...

I recently had cause to look up this half remembered quote from George Orwell:

"Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.”

The occasion was in another forum where a foron quoted a Harvard Law Prof as saying that stockholders "can't" sue company management.

I pointed out several cases where they actually did sue. I also pointed out a law firm that brags about its very existence being for the purposes of suing management on behalf of stockholders.

The reply? Who was I to say that a Harvard prof was wrong?

It was comical but very sad for me.

So, there are some ideas so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them. But then there are the folks (some in Madison, apparently) that believe the intellectuals rather than open their eyes and look for themselves.

Stupidity on stilts.

John Henry

edutcher said...

Robert Cook said...

No, eddie, Mitt lost, indisputably. Too many Americans recognized him as just another insincere hustler, a rich guy still hungry for more...in this case, for power and self-aggrandizement. Mitt is a used car salesman born into a prominent family, but he can't rid himself of that "used car salesman smell."

Sorry, Cook, I know Choom is a secret wet dream with all Lefties, but the massive vote fraud in this election is out there for every one to see.

He was ahead until the "Miracle of Sandy", which gave the Axelrod and Company the opening to start playing games.

Gary Rosen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

Isn't Sowell a professor at a prestigious private university? Doesn't he write researched books on weighty topics?
Isn't he an intellectual?


We know and praise the critics, while the doers toil in relative obscurity... Sowell is a lone voice in that wilderness.

The path from Reagan to Romney has been an unrelenting search to prove by sight, feel and sound alone that "what works" is what is wrong with America.

As Vic points out... what feels good is worth doing... is winning.

Gary Rosen said...

"And the libtard media cannot play the race card on him [Sowell]."

I guess you've never heard the terms "house ni**er" or "cornball brother". Race-baiting and homophobia ("teabaggers") are not only tolerated but mandatory as long as they serve Teh Narrative.

Robert Cook said...

"As if Obama isn't the most hungry for power and self-aggrandizement of any president in history."

I certainly didn't say Obama wasn't hungry for power and self-aggrandizement...what candidate for President of the United States isn't?

However, your personal dislike of him aside, (a dislike I share), how do you gauge him to be hungrier for power and self-aggrandizement than "any president in history?"

What metrics do you use to arrive at that conclusion? Of the two, I'd guess Mitt wanted the office more than Obama, who seems oddly diffident as President. It's Obama whose appearance and affect might lead one to conclude "he didn't really want the Presidency," but, anyone who spends the time, money, and energy to run the electoral gauntlet from start to finish by definition really wants the office.

Robert Cook said...

"I guess you've never heard the terms 'house ni**er' or 'cornball brother'".

I've never heard the term "cornball brother."

Jake Diamond said...

the massive vote fraud in this election is out there for every one to see.

edumbshit repeats this constantly, like a trained parrot, but he can't produce any evidence of "massive vote fraud." No facts, just fantasy.

Welcome to life in the right wing bubble!

St. George said...

I spent most of this year dating a tenured professor at a major American university. She and her friends (all full professors) were the most inbred, boring people I've ever met. Narrow minded would be the best word to describe them. These were folks who got their yuks mocking Republicans. "I can't believe I'm dating a Republican," my then girlfriend said to guests at a dinner party.

I asked my then girlfriend how many professors in her department (hard science) she thought were not Democrats. Her reply, "Zero."

Nature loves mutts, not homogeneity.

Mark B said...

Rob Parker apologizes for calling Robert Griffin III a ‘cornball brother’ on ESPN’s ‘First Take’

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/espn-commentator-regrets-rg3-race-rant-article-1.1223667#ixzz2G6blKc8hhttp://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/espn-commentator-regrets-rg3-race-rant-article-1.1223667

Lydia said...

Robert Cook said...
Of the two, I'd guess Mitt wanted the office more than Obama

Romney's son would disagree. He told the Boston Globe:

“[Romney] wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life ... He had no desire to ... run. If he could have found someone else to take his place ... he would have been ecstatic to step aside."

Jake Diamond said...

Romney's son would disagree.

Tagg Romney is full of shit.

roesch/voltaire said...

Stowell has been publishing a book a year for what over twenty, with the same themes: free market is good, Marxism is bad, and Affirmative Action even worse. Stowell has become the glib and flat writer who dismantles interest in real debate.

harrogate said...

"Wow. That's harsh. "

Yeah but it's coming from Sowell, so not really. It's in the spirit of Levin. How these posers roll.

Rusty said...

roesch/voltaire said...
Stowell has been publishing a book a year for what over twenty, with the same themes: free market is good, Marxism is bad, and Affirmative Action even worse. Stowell has become the glib and flat writer who dismantles interest in real debate.


Sounds like Stowell has read some Sowell.
How many books have you written?

SMSgt Mac said...

Say, who is "Stowell" person? I'd like to read his stuff. I find the "Stowell has become the glib and flat writer who dismantles interest in real debate" comment intriguing: he/she must have put a huge cache of immutable truths to paper over the years to pull that off. Otherwise I imagine the 'debate' would be 'deafening'.

Gary Rosen said...

"Tagg Romney is full of shit."

Could be, Jake, but consider the source (Boston Globe). When it comes to telling us what Republicans really say and do the MSM has less credibility than the National Enquirer.


bagoh20 said...

I'm sorry, but when I think of accomplished people, "intellectual" is not what comes to mind. I mean do you really have to succeed at anything challenging to be one? Do you have to better others who are challenging you head on? Do you have to do anything much more than just what you are told to do by professors and other intellectuals while waiting for them to notice your compliance?

Nothing wrong with that, but if that 's all you got, we both got ripped off. I mean c'mon, your wasting oxygen.

Robert Cook said...

"Robert Cook said...
Of the two, I'd guess Mitt wanted the office more than Obama


"Romney's son would disagree. He told the Boston Globe:

“'[Romney] wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life ... He had no desire to ... run. If he could have found someone else to take his place ... he would have been ecstatic to step aside.'"


There was a whole thread here about this. It's total bullshit and Tagg Romney is lying. OF COURSE the man who lost is going to let it be know "he didn't really want it anyway."

HooHah! Who could swallow such hogwash?

Gary Rosen said...

"Who could swallow such hogwash?"

Over half the electorate gargled a boatload of the stuff.

somefeller said...

I'm sorry, but when I think of accomplished people, "intellectual" is not what comes to mind.

Of course it doesn't. One wouldn't expect someone like you to think otherwise. But it takes all kinds to make a world.

Steve Koch said...

I understand the point that Sowell is trying to make but "intellectual" was probably the wrong word to use.

What he is getting at is that lefties use the power of government to compel Americans (by government decree (and sometimes law when they can get enough votes)) to do stuff based on lefty theory even though the theory has not been thoroughly field tested and there is no consensus among our citizens for that particular change.

Implicit in Sowell's charge is that changes in the law should at least first be tried at the state level to see how well they work in the real world and learn what the unintended consequences are. After the kinks have been worked out and the changes have proven to be useful, other states can choose to adopt them if they see fit.

Lefties use government to push people around and gradually but relentlessly erode our freedom. Partially it is to implement lefty theories (as Sowell says) but it is mostly about acquiring and keeping power. It is no accident that lefty government tends to be extremely corrupt.




jcr said...

I believe that Sowell is misusing the word "Intellectuals" to refer to pseudo-intellectuals. I would consider such people as Richard Feynman, Frederic Bastiat, and Sowell himself to be intellectuals, whereas people like Marx, Krugman or Keynes are nothing but articulate misanthropes.

-jcr

David said...

Intellectuals, indeed.

Moneyrunner said...

Here's another quote by Sowell after Sandy Hook.
If you don’t want to have a gun in your home or in your school, that’s your choice. But don’t be such a damn fool as to advertise to the whole world that you are in “a gun-free environment” where you are a helpless target for any homicidal fiend who is armed. Is it worth a human life to be a politically correct moral exhibitionist?

grichens said...

@somefeller:

I believe you are confusing "accomplishment" with "bestowment".

SJ said...

@edutcher
...the massive vote fraud in this election is out there for every one to see.

@Jake Diamond
edumbshit repeats this constantly, like a trained parrot, but he can't produce any evidence of "massive vote fraud." No facts, just fantasy.

Welcome to life in the right wing bubble!


Wait a minute, which election are we talking about?

In 2000 and 2004, poorly-sourced allegations of "massive vote fraud" were obviously true.

Now, in 2008 and 2012, poorly-sourced allegations of "massive vote fraud" are paranoid thoughts in a right-wing echo chamber.

Voter fraud is discovered in the U.S. occasionally.

Let's see. We've never seen vote fraud recently, right?

At this level, it's embarrassing but not election-stealing.

I mean, some international observers were surprised that the United States mostly doesn't require ID for voting.

jkmack said...

The frightening aspect of the analysis is that presumably well educated people can be convinced to believe a set of statements, such that they will lead to their voluntary destruction.
Drink this cool aid and the aliens will ride down on unicorns and take us all to utopia.

The truth does not matter one whit, the desired result is all that matters. If your message convinces enough people that you can reach that desired result, ie free healthcare, then you win politically, even though the reality will be free healthcare limited to a bandaid an aspirin, an amputation, and a government assisted death, to keep cost down and maintain the free, which is of course so much more important than the healthcare.

Rick67 said...

And on target. Sorry.

I am still moved by Warden at Ace of Spade's description of our situation:

"Most of us thought that all we had to do was get to the beginning of the New Year and we’d finally see the end of the most treacherous and destructive presidency of our lifetimes.

And yet here we are in this unthinkable place, wondering how in the hell we got here—how our friends and neighbors could betray us this way … how such a fiercely proud, prosperous and inherently decent nation could become so mean, petty and small."

Yup.

TMink said...

I get his point. As Christians, Sowell and me and others work on putting our blind trust in a wonderful savior and are roundly criticized for it while John Lennon goes over to India to follow the randy maharishi and he is lauded for the same.

It matters where your trust is placed.

And liberals like to trust their own sense of brilliance.

Trey

EDH said...

Gary Rosen said...
Over half the electorate gargled a boatload of the stuff.

The question, like at Jonestown, is whether they spit or swallow.

autothreads said...

You should see how those who see themselves as intellectuals sneer at truly independent thinkers like Paul Johnson and Dr. Sowell. Johnson's book Intellectuals forever disabused me of the notion that being smart meant anything other than being smart. Most of history's worst ideas have been the products of smart people.

Half of humanity is, statistically speaking, of less than average intelligence. Half of everyone has an IQ of less than 100, that's how they calibrate IQ tests. We have a word for those people, it's called stupid.

Now let's look at the other half of humanity, the "smart" half. Ever notice how many really bad people, Nazis and terrorist leaders, have medical and engineering degrees? Rantisi, and Zawahiri and Mengele were not stupid men.

So half of everyone is stupid and a good chunk of smart people come up with evil and wicked ideas.

It's amazing that democracies can survive at all.

Robert Cook said...

"It's amazing that democracies can survive at all."

They usually don't, in the long run.

Kirk Parker said...

St. George,

I'd congratulate you on your narrow escape, except for the little part where you let the "most of the year" detail slip.

So instead, I'll just day "Dude........???????" Obviously she must have been really really really really hot.

Kirk Parker said...

Cookie,

"They usually don't, in the long run."

No reason to try your best to make it so.

Nate Whilk said...

Robert Cook said, 'Too many Americans recognized him as just another insincere hustler, a rich guy still hungry for more...in this case, for power and self-aggrandizement.'

Obama said he'd cut the deficit in half. He doubled it.

Obama said he'd close Gitmo. He didn't.

Obama said all bills would be seen by the public for 5 days before voting. They aren't.

Obama said talks about Obamacare would be publicly broadcast. They weren't.

And you call ROMNEY the "insincere hustler" and say HE wants more "power and self-aggrandizement"?

'Mitt is a used car salesman born into a prominent family, but he can't rid himself of that "used car salesman smell." '

Obama sold us an entire used car company to us, so he's much closer to a used car salesman than Romney. And it was a lousy deal, just like an actual used car salesman would make for us. The "stimulus" and Obamacare are two more lousy deals.

It'd probably be offensive and racist to say Obama has a far greater used car salesman smell, so I won't.

David said...

Evidently democracy is self-terminating, because those who benefit most from it learn to detest it and embrace tyranny.

David said...

Evidently democracy is self-terminating, because those who benefit most from it learn to detest it and embrace tyranny.

Robert Cook said...

Nate Whilk...

In re: your comment. I never said Obama was not also a hustler and a used car salesman. Of course he is...most politicians are.

However, he has the skill necessary to all successful politicians...he convinced more Americans that he was sincere, or at least, that he was less insincere, than his opponent.

Robert Cook said...

BTW, I don't know that Romney would have been a worse President than Obama...he may have been, certainly...very possibly so. But, Obama is a pretty terrible president, and perhaps the more dangerous for seeming so "progressive," (or having inclinations to being progressive, however little realized this is in his governance).

Obama is the stealth Republican, really, and he does much damage because his supporters don't perceive his true nature.