Thomas Sowell's new book a must read

Just in time to refresh us for battle in the coming year, Thomas Sowell has a new book out: Intellectuals and Society. It is a must-read and  follows in the steps of two of his previous books The Vision of the Anointed and A Conflict of Visions.

One of the themes of Sowell's work is that decisions in society should be made by people who will experience the consequences of those decisions and that the more there is a separation between power and consequences the greater the danger to society.

Sowell makes a distinction between people whose occupations require high intellectual capacity - engineering, the professions, etc. - but who are judged by the results of their intellectual efforts - does the bridge hold up, does a surgeon's patient recover - and those whose occupations are to generate ideas in the abstract, the merit of which are never subject to empirical tests. We are all familiar with the situation where an intellectual - Paul Ehrlich and his prediction of famine in the latter part of the 20th century is an example - can be completely wrong with no damage to his reputation or status.

The role of intellectuals in framing public debate is the concern of this book. It provides a vocabulary for refining one's understanding of how current issues are being construed, whether it be the war with radical Islam, global warming or the just nature of society.

The book is divided into sections, with a particularly alarming one on the role of intellectuals in disarming the democracies in Europe between World Wars I and II, a role they are endeavoring to play in the U.S. today. In addition to being a polymath and thus elucidating diverse subjects, Sowell at his best tells you things that you might have felt, but had not been able to put into words.

A weapon.