January 6, 2010

WHICH IS WHY WE'RE OF THE STUPID PARTY:

Intellectuals and Society: Ideas have consequences, for good or ill. (Thomas Sowell, 1/05/10, National Review)

[C]ertainly, during the 20th century, it is hard to escape the conclusion that intellectuals have on balance made the world a worse and more dangerous place. Scarcely a mass-murdering dictator of the 20th century was without his supporters, admirers, or apologists among the leading intellectuals — not only within his own country, but in foreign democracies, where intellectuals were free to say whatever they wanted.

Given the enormous progress made during the 20th century, it may seem hard to believe that intellectuals did so little good as to have that good outweighed by their wrong-headed notions. But most of those who promoted the scientific, economic, and social advances of the 20th century were not really intellectuals in the sense in which that term is most often used.

The Wright brothers, who fulfilled the centuries-old dream of human beings flying, were by no means intellectuals. Nor were those who conquered the scourge of polio and other diseases, or who created the electronic marvels that we now take for granted.

All these people produced a tangible product or service and they were judged by whether those products and services worked. But intellectuals are people whose end products are intangible ideas, and they are usually judged by whether those ideas sound good to other intellectuals or resonate with the public. Whether their ideas turn out to work — whether they make life better or worse for others — is another question entirely.



Posted by Orrin Judd at January 6, 2010 6:44 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« PERHAPS THE GREATEST SCREEN CRAWL IN THE HISTORY OF TELEVISION RAN HERE ON SUNDAY...: | Main | RESISTED? THE CORPORATE ELITE IS ECSTATIC ABOUT HIS MANDATORY INSURANCE PROGRAM: »