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The Intolerant Left

October 24, 2010 23 comments

I used to think the left wing was the home of tolerance, open-mindedness, respect for all viewpoints, but now, I learned the truth the hard way.

– Juan Williams

It’s a common mistake for people to make. They assume that the Left is the tolerant side. After all, the Left keeps preaching about tolerance and inclusion. Yet, there is that immutable fact that the Left, while preaching tolerance, is very much intolerant of anyone that harbors a different opinion.

Anecdotal evidence is everywhere. You have the recent Williams-NPR flop, where the “tolerant” liberals at NPR decided to fire Williams for admitting that he gets “nervous” to get on an airplane with people dressed in Muslim garb, all the while trying to drive the point home that there is a difference between extremist Muslims and the non-violent ones.

You have the political activist/director Rob Reiner compare Tea Party people to Nazis on Real Time with Bill Maher. Of course there is George Clooney reminding Maher that he needs to be a little bit more tolerant and open minded about the Right.

MAHER: I think this is a big difference between liberals and conservatives. You know, I don’t think conservatives are bad people. I think they have a hard time being empathetic to people who are not like them at all.

CLOONEY: Okay, now wait. I’ll tell you why, hang on a minute though. I’ll tell you why that’s not necessarily true. Because this movement, the Sudanese movement, Darfur, the north-south agreement were really truly embraced by the Right even more so than the Left.

Of course these recent (all within the last week) examples don’t really amount too much. What really proves it are the personal experiences that former Democrats and liberals have faced when dealing with issues that they have differing opinions from the mainstream Liberal group-thought. My example is one of being called racist for not supporting Obama during the 2008 primary. It didn’t matter that, at the time due to my economic ignorance, that we agreed on a lot of issues. The sheer fact that I didn’ t want Obama meant that I must be racist. During that Primary season, Hillary and her supporters were subject to all kinds of vicious attacks from other Democrats. Mind you, McCain had a very hands off attitude in his campaign after he locked the nomination for GOP. There were months, where the news cycle was dominated by Dem on Dem in fighting, racial and gender attacks. All from Democrats to other Democrats, Liberal vs Liberal.

Now, of course, you have a combined selective amnesia of the whole affair from Liberals. They try to whitewash history to suit their own purposes but it isn’t working like it used to. Thank you You Tube. In the age of Interwebs, the usual Liberal play of selective amnesia doesn’t work. All it takes is three seconds of searching on You Tube to bring up a clip of Barney Frank proclaiming that there isn’t a bubble in housing.

So let’s just take a quick look at what it means to be “tolerant” for the Left:

Gender: Woman have to be pro-choice and pro-“Feminist” (There is distinction between classical feminism and what’s coming out of the Womens Studies Dept at most Universities).Example: Sarah Palin. She is a woman who embodies everything from the classical feminist movement, a woman who has both career and family. A woman who is successful and has shattered some glass ceilings in her day. Yet the left utterly hate her. Hate is probably too weak of a word for how Liberals think of Palin. Why? Because she is Conservative and Pro-Life. Thus she must be hated.

Race: There is no way around it, for a black man or woman to have any standing in Liberal circles they have to be liberal as well. To be a conservative black person is to be an Uncle Tom. Go read some “tolerant” Liberal reviews of books by some of the smartest men on the planet, who happen to be black, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and Clarence Thomas. You can always tell the “tolerant” liberal by their constant demeaning and name calling of the authors in question. Go ahead try it!

We all have some stories of liberal intolerance. What are yours?

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Sowell on Liberals and Conservatives

September 16, 2010 7 comments

Thomas Sowell hits a home run here.

The late liberal Professor Tony Judt of New York University gave this definition of liberals: “A liberal is someone who opposes interference in the affairs of others: who is tolerant of dissenting attitudes and unconventional behavior.”

According to Professor Judt, liberals favor “keeping other people out of our lives, leaving individuals the maximum space in which to live and flourish as they choose.”

That of course would be the classical definition of Liberalism. What we call Liberal in the US now, is anything but liberal. As Sowell says later, “‘progressive’ may be more in vogue.” Progressive is what todays version of liberals used to call themselves. That was back in the early 20th century, until Progressive policies gave us the Great Depression. Liberals love to forget that Hoover was a Progressive Republican. So Progressive that Democrats wanted him to run for the Democratic Party instead of Al Smith. But I digress, history is selective to the modern Democratic Party.

Does the sweeping legislation empowering federal officials to tell doctors, patients, hospitals, and insurance companies what to do, when it comes to medical care, sound like leaving individuals the maximum space to live their lives as they choose?

Communities that have had overwhelmingly liberal elected officials for decades abound in nanny state regulations, micro-managing everything from home-building to garbage collection. San Francisco is a classic example. Among its innumerable micro-managing laws is one recently passed requiring that gas stations must remove the little levers that allow motorists to pump gas into their cars without having to hold the nozzle.

Liberals are usually willing to let people violate the traditional standards of the larger society but crack down on those who dare to violate liberals’ own notions and fetishes.

Our academic institutions are overwhelmingly dominated by liberals. They feature speech codes that punish politically incorrect statements. Even to apply to many colleges and universities, students must have spent time as “volunteers” for activities arbitrarily defined by admissions committees as “community service.”

I think most modern liberals would stop reading there, thinking that Sowell is only berating them. If they’d be truly tolerant and keep reading they’d see Sowell take Conservatives to task as well.

As for conservatism, it has no specific political meaning, because everything depends on what you are trying to conserve. In the last days of the Soviet Union, those who were trying to maintain the Communist system were widely– and correctly– described as “conservatives,” though they had nothing in common with such conservatives as William F. Buckley or Milton Friedman.

Professor Friedman for years fought a losing battle against being labeled a conservative. He considered himself a liberal in the original sense of the word and wrote a book titled “The Tyranny of the Status Quo.” Friedman proposed radical changes in things ranging from the public schools to the Federal Reserve System.

Sowell is making two points here. First and foremost, don’t get caught up in fancy rhetoric. Anyone that considers themselves educated and intelligent should always look past the flashiness of words to their real meaning.

The second point is also easy. Don’t get caught up with labels. People are much too complex to be labeled.

Cause of the Decline

September 1, 2010 9 comments

Thomas Sowell is always a must read.

In this, as in other things, Barack Obama is not so much the cause of our decline but the culmination of it. He had many predecessors and many contemporaries who represent the same mindset and the same malaise.

Are we in a decline? I’m somewhat optimistic. I see the rise of the Tea Party as sign that we aren’t too far off the path. Yet Sowell, in his new book, Dismantling America isn’t as optimistic as I am. Maybe I’m right and he is wrong. Or maybe I’m wrong and he is right. We won’t know for sure for a while. One thing that I definitely know he is right about, that this has a been a gradual thing. Sowell rightly notes that America’s love of free markets has been taking hits for a very long time. It was only a matter of time that someone like Obama would come along.

Categories: Obama, Sowell

Thomas Sowell on Equality and Racism

August 15, 2010 8 comments

Anyone that reads this blog knows that I think very highly of Thomas Sowell. His logic is impeccable. In his latest column,  he writes about equality.

Ask the bean-counters where in this wide world have different groups been proportionally represented. They can’t tell you. In other words, something that nobody can demonstrate is taken as a norm, and any deviation from that norm is somebody’s fault!

Anyone who has watched football over the years has probably seen at least a hundred black players score touchdowns– and not one black player kick the extra point. Is this because of some twisted racist who doesn’t mind black players scoring touchdowns but hates to see them kicking the extra points?

At our leading engineering schools– M.I.T., CalTech, etc.– whites are under-represented and Asians over-represented. Is this anti-white racism or pro-Asian racism? Or are different groups just different?

So what is it about equality that gets people all riled up? Well I think the first thing, the one Sowell is poking fun of, is the idea of equality of outcomes. No one can tell you of a time or place, where everyone was perfectly proportionally represented. Why?The simple answer is, everyone is different. Each racial group has a standard normal distribution of intellect, athleticism, musical ability, mathematical ability, etc.

So when some bean counter is looking at racial statistics at X university. What are they really looking at? They are looking at distribution of a certain ability, say math, within a distribution of people with high math ability in that certain population.

If a certain racial group makes up only 20% of the total population. And if only 20% of a racial group are good at math and only 30% of those are good enough to get into MIT. It doesn’t take a MIT math wiz to tell you that you will never get equal representation (20%) of the total population at MIT.

That’s only part of the problem. The other part is the very notion of equality. What does it mean? It might sound like a dumb question, but it’s that very question that gets people all worked up to begin with.

Most Liberals, I’d say, have a notion that equality means that the outcomes have to come out equal. This is the equality of outcomes that Sowell talks about in Conflict of Vision. This is a basic premise of “Unconstrained Vision.” That since everyman is equal (a point that both Left and Right usually share) then the outcomes have to be equal as well. It’s a very Utopian concept that almost always fail to account for what is found in reality. This premise looks past natural ability, determination, and work ethic in determining the outcomes. Only the final number is important. If the final number doesn’t fit the ideal, then some nefarious motives have to be at work.

The other notion of equality is the idea of equality of opportunity. This idea, central to the “Constrained Vision,” is one that values the natural abilities in determining the outcomes. The only ideal is that everyone be giving the same opportunity to succeed in life, what happens is up to chance and that persons desires, work ethics and abilities.

Equality of opportunity stresses that the mechanism be equal, while equality of outcomes ignores the mechanism. By mechanism, I’m talking about laws, institutions and rules (All this is from Conflict of Visions). Equality of outcomes stresses the final tally, while the equality of opportunity doesn’t really care about the outcomes. Is it any wonder why the two sides talk past each other? The whole very basic premise of what is “equal” is radically different.

I’d argue that the equality of opportunity is the one true measure of equality. Men are equal to a certain extent. When talking about rights and privileges, then all men are equal. Yet, when we are talking about abilities, then all men are certainty not equal. I am not equal to Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen. I’m not equal to Lebron James on the basketball court. I’m not equal to Eli Manning on the football field as well. Yet neither are they equal to me at what I do best. Even when it comes to my chosen profession, I doubt any of them even know what Gas Chromatography or Mass Spectroscopy are, much less know how to analyze data and troubleshoot problems.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. This is so obvious that most people overlook it when talking about equality. I think that those of the equality of outcomes persuasion kind of wish away that fact. When talking about economics (income equality is the biggie), people tend to forget that not all people act the same exact way. We all act in our interests. The variation with various ethnic and racial groups is enormous. The variation within the total human population is even bigger (imagine that).

If we all acted the same way, life would be boring. If we all acted the same, a central tenet of modern human self-worth, that we are all unique and different, is meaningless. Think about that for a minute. If we act all the same, meaning the same abilities and skills, then really each person is not really worth much of anything, since there are billions of exact duplicates all around the globe. One thing that makes human life so valuable, is that we are all unique. That we all do have differing skills, abilities and wants.

If you think about the liberal unconstrained view of equality, outcomes, you’ll notice that the end run is exact duplicates. If we were to achieve the liberal Utopia where everyone is “equal,” it doesn’t matter if they are all equally living in the mud, eating bugs and all dying from Malaria. We are all “equal” right. No one is better off than the rest. There is no room for innovation or the entrepreneurial spirit. Those are the things that lead to “unequal” outcomes. After all it was Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos drive, entrepreneurial spirit and leadership (all innate skills and abilities) that lead to their “unequal” outcomes of extreme wealth. In order to have equal outcomes, the extraordinary would have to be culled from the human race.

Of course a Liberal would contest that equal outcomes means everyone is as wealthy as the Gates, Jobs and Bezos of the world. Yet, I find that assertion flat-out insane. How do you create wealth? You don’t just print it out of a printing press. You can’t just add zeros to a bank account to create wealth. Wealth is created by innovation, drive and entrepreneurial spirit, the exact things that would need to be culled in order to attain equality of outcomes.

A cursory look at history supports my case. Pretty much every government that tried to create equal outcomes has done so by bringing everyone down to the lowest common denominator. From Maoist China, Stalinist Russia, to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Revolution in Cuba, the people live a far lower standard of living than even the poorest person here in the  “unequal” US. Hell the Cubans only just recently were allowed cell phones (although it does them no good), where as practically everyone even those living on food stamps and welfare have had cell phones here in the US for years.

One of the things that got us started on heavy-handed government regulation of the housing market were statistics showing that blacks were turned down for mortgage loans more often than whites. The bean-counters in the media went ballistic. It had to be racism, to hear them tell it.

What they didn’t tell you was that whites were turned down more often than Asians. What they also didn’t tell you was that black-owned banks also turned down blacks more often than whites. Nor did they tell you that credit scores differed from group to group. Instead, the media, the politicians and the regulators grabbed some statistics and ran with them.

The bean-counters are everywhere, pushing the idea that differences show injustices committed by society. As long as we keep buying it, they will keep selling it– and the polarization they create will sell this country down the river.

Racism is a common reason for inequality, according to Liberals. The reason is simple, they can’t find any episode from history, except those above which they want to forget, that has had equal outcomes. Racism is the only way they can cope with the fact that their ideas don’t work. It gives them a bogey man to blame because their whole concept of equality is wrong, they are thinking in the wrong terms. Outcome based equality is a pipe dream. All that we can do, giving a wide range of human interests, skills and abilities, is create an environment where everyone is given equal opportunity.

Modern Liberals can’t handle that. That would mean ending racial quotas (the most pervasive form of racial discrimination on the planet in my opinion), the end of collecting racial statistics and the end of Affirmative Action. But you can’t play identity politics that way. Identity politics is the core of the modern Democratic party. Look at their push for illegal amnesty. Even the most ardent Liberal will concede that it is for electoral political reasons.

Ironically,The Liberal world  the very opposite of the world in which Dr. King wanted. Dr. King wanted a world were people were judged by the content of their character NOT the color of their skin. Modern Liberals judge people by the color of their skin or what they are packing in their pants/pantsuit first and foremost.

Racism will be around for as long as there is money in keeping it around. The last time I checked, not too many conservatives or libertarians were giving money to Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. More importantly it will continue to be used as a weapon for as long as the people fall for it.

My Mini Review of “Intellectuals and Society”

May 12, 2010 6 comments

I just finished listening to Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell. I bought the audio book, so I won’t be able to provide any actual quotes, so I’ll be paraphrasing. Since this isn’t for scholarship, but more for my own thoughts, quotes are not mandatory.

What is an Intellectual?

First things first, what is an “Intellectual?” I think Dr. Sowell’s definition fits rather well. An intellectual is a person whose end product is ideas. They don’t make anything. They merely repackage ideas, that mostly, came from someone else and present them to the public (public intellectual). Sowell uses that definition to make the distinction between an intellectual and someone of intellect; an engineer or medical doctor.

Since an engineer’s end product is something tangible, same as a medical doctor, they have some sort of feedback mechanism that weeds out the good from the bad. An engineer whose bridge falls in the river (Tacoma Narrows Bridge) finds them self out of a job and out of the profession. Same goes with a doctor or dentist, if they pull the wrong tooth or amputates the wrong limb too often, they will find themselves out of a job and out of money.  The same isn’t true of an intellectual.

Dr. Sowell makes the point that an intellectual is immune to the short and long run consequences of their end product. This is so obvious that it’s hard to notice it at times. How often are politicians, pundits etc called out for the consequences of their ideas? Almost never! Paul Erlich comes to mind for me. Erlich has written numerous books and essays  warning about unchecked population growth, a modern-day Malthusian. His 1968 The Population Bomb book proved to be big joke. Did the fact that just about everything he has said turned out to be wrong hurt his reputation? Nope, just take a look at his awards on the Wiki page.

While Sowell uses the early 20th century for examples, like Russell, Shaw, and Wells. These figures are almost unknown to the younger generation and probably most of the older generation as well. I think Sowell would have made a better point if he’d have used more modern examples, like Erlich, Sunstein, Krugman, etc. These are people we know and hear of today. Anyway, back to Erlich.

Erlich is a good example of what Sowell calls an intellectual for another reason, he is an expert in his field but makes pronouncement about things outside his field. Erlich is an entomologist whose expertise is in butterflies. Yet he thinks he knows enough to make pronouncement on human populations. Dr. Sowell says that this is because intellectuals confuse their expert knowledge with the mundane knowledge.

What is Knowledge?

A key aspect to knowing what makes an intellectual tick is the knowing how they view knowledge. Dr. Sowell states that there are two main types of knowledge, expert knowledge and mundane knowledge. Expert knowledge is just that, knowing a lot about a certain subject area. This can be in any field; economics, botany, chemistry, physics, mathematics etc. The part about expert knowledge that is key to me, is that it usually requires a marshaling of facts with a little bit of logic thrown in. I can be an expert in ancient Greek history, if I just read enough and memorize certain things. I can be an expert in Math, if I read enough and apply certain tools. Dr. Sowell goes a little farther, to say that intellectuals are usually very good in the field they are experts in. He uses the example of Chomsky. Chomsky knows things about linguistics that most other people will never know, that makes him an expert in his field. Chomsky also has the ability to create novel ideas about the area he is an expert in.

Mundane knowledge is just that, mundane. It’s collective knowledge, things that can’t be pinned down and things that usually come from experience. Mundane knowledge is like knowing what sound a car engine should sound like. While it might seem trivial, you put all those little trivial pieces of knowledge together and you get the vast majority of the knowledge that is out there. Dr. Sowell makes the point that it’s the mundane knowledge that is the driving force behind human society. This is very Hayekian. Which of course, I agree with 100%.

An intellectual is someone who confuses their own expert knowledge with the mundane knowledge, that makes the world work. They think that because they know a lot about a certain thing, that it translates into knowing a lot about everything. This is why Erlich thinks he can make judgment on population, why Chomsky thinks he should make political judgments, why Krugman thinks that his Nobel gives him room to make broad partisan political pronouncements, etc. This is the key difference between an intellectual and someone with intelligence. Clearly, Krugman et al are intelligent, but so is an engineer or a doctor. Yet you don’t see engineers going on and on about politics (usually at least not in the media). Yet when you do hear an engineer or doctor making broad political or social pronouncements outside of the field of expertise, it is because they are acting as intellectuals.

Another important aspect of knowledge that Dr. Sowell makes, is that the mundane makes up the vast majority of total knowledge in the world, 90%. I think it’s more than that, on the order of 99.9% But that’s just me. The point is, that it’s impossible for one person or even a group of people to fully comprehend and understand what goes on in society. It’s the flaw that dooms all planners, since planners are intellectuals. Dr. Sowell uses the example of the USSR, who had no shortage of experts. Yet, their endless panel of experts could not make their economy work. When here in the US (for the most part) thousands and thousands of people, with  a far lower level of expertise in any given field than the USSR planner, armed only with mundane knowledge and experience produced the greatest economy in the 20th century. Again this is very Misian and Hayekian, the Socialist Calculation Debate.

Incentives

Incentives matter. I don’t care who you are, I’m a firm believer that no one does anything for free. There is always a motive. So what are the incentives for the intelligentsia? What makes them tick?

Same as everyone else they are not a different breed of human, as much as they might tell you or want to think of themselves as. They want money, power and prestige. Since intellectuals only deal in ideas and they are immune to the consequences of those ideas, they are free to pursue anything that tickles their fancy regardless of any harm it might entail. Again, I think of Erlich, who in his book Population Bomb discussed “compulsory birth regulation… (through) the addition of temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food. Doses of the antidote would be carefully rationed by the government to produce the desired family size.” Sounds eerily familiar to John Holdren’s comments, who is Obama’s science adviser.

Intellectuals like Erlich make a lot of money doing what they do. It’s not hard to see why, simple supply and demand. People of all types want to hear things that appeal to their a priori biases. Since intellectuals deal in abstract ideas, that can’t be verified, they are more than willing to provide the ideas that people want to hear. This is better understood in the context of news media. Republicans want to hear things filtered through their own constrained vision, so they listen to Fox who is more than happy to give the people what they want, intellectuals of a certain bias. The same hold true for MSNBC, CBS, Huffington etc.

While the ideas themselves have consequences, the purveyors of those ideas don’t bare any brunt of the responsibility for those ideas since those ideas are rarely novel. Since I love to hate on some Global Warming, I’ll use that as an example. ALGORE doesn’t bare any responsibility for his “Hockey Stick” scam because he got his information from IPCC (not quite accurate but for the purposes of my example it’s sufficient). The IPCC doesn’t bare responsibility (as we have seen from the Glacier-Gate and Amazon-Gate) because they get their information from “peer reviewed” articles (sometimes). Those scientists don’t bare responsibility because they get their numbers from CRU, NOAA, NASA…who get their numbers from other scientists. You see where this is going. No one has any responsibility for anything because they all relied on someone else, so going way back up the food chain to ALGORE. Why wouldn’t he make sweeping pronouncements about AGW, to aquire wealth, and a nifty Nobel Prize? Sounds like a nifty scam for someone with absolutely no expertise in the field of climate science.

Groupthink is a huge part of that equation. Intellectuals of like variety tend to stick together. They select for each other, which is why most social science departments are overwhelmingly liberal. Groupthink also plays a role in the only critical test of an intellectuals ideas, peer review. Now peer review isn’t just for academia. Again think about the news media. Hannity, Olbermann, Maddow only agree with people that think the same as they do. This is a form of peer review. Now academia has its own problems with peer review, but they are basically the same. Why would you challenge an assertion that conforms to your own a priori bias? A Global Warming alarmist isn’t going to question the new “study” that confirms their bias, but they are going to challenge one that refutes their bias. Hannity isn’t going to challenge a panel member that he agrees with, but he will challenge Colmes since they hold different ideas.

The more I think about groupthink, the more I’m amazed that we (Humans) have managed to learn, innovate and evolve as much as we have. The intelligentsia of Galileo’s time held vastly differing views on the solar system than Galileo. Yet somehow through the fog of groupthink and confirmation biases, the truth did come out. This gives me hope that all the nonsense coming out of our present intelligentsia will eventually be shown to be false, much like Erlich’s and Malthus’ population forecasts were shown to be false. But in the mean time and even after proven wrong, intellectuals like Erlich will still gain money, power and prestige from those that believe the same way he does, regardless if it’s factually false. Orwell said that “some ideas are so foolish that only an intellectual could believe them, for no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

Conclusion

I realize that this didn’t turn out to be a “mini” review. It is quite a long piece for me. Intellectuals and Society is a fabulous book. I highly recommend everyone read it, even though I know few actually will. It’s their loss. There are a few things that do need to be cleared up.

Yes Dr. Sowell is an intellectual as well. I’ve noticed a lot of Liberals try to make the case that Dr. Sowell’s thesis doesn’t hold because he is arguing against his own profession. Of course that case is hogwash. That’s like saying a doctor shouldn’t call into question, questionable practices by fellow doctors. That critique isn’t so much an argument as it is ad hominem.

Dr. Sowell’s book  takes aim at Liberals mostly. Of course the fact that the majority of intellectuals have been Left leaning be of any consequence?  The thesis holds true across the political spectrum. Just because Dr. Sowell doesn’t say so, doesn’t mean you can dismiss his thesis. Of course it’s those kinds of dismissals that distinguishes intellectuals from people actually interested in learning. Intellectuals love to mischaracterize opponents positions in order to bolster their case, the Tea Parties are a case in point.

As a final note, I would recommend that before you read Intellectuals and Society, that you read A Conflict of Visions first. The whole notion of constrained and unconstrained vision originated from A Conflict of Visions and is dispersed through Intellectuals.

Earth Day Predictions from 1970

April 26, 2010 4 comments

This is why you don’t let the “experts” dictate policy.

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” – Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” – The same Paul Ehrilich

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” – Life Magazine, January 1970

“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” – Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” – Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

I’m a big fan of Dr. Thomas Sowell. His book Intellectuals and Society is an excellent read, to get an idea of what goes through the mind of intellectuals like Ehrilich. Why they get it wrong but never have to answer for being wrong so consistently.

(O)ne of the advantages of high intelligence is the ability to rationalize. We can all make mistakes and again, if you don’t pay for those mistakes, there’s not really a strong reason to make a correction. In fact, to admit a mistake among intellectuals and more so among politicians, will do you more damage than persisting in it.

Here’s more from Sowell. Go to the 2:04 minute mark to hear him talk about intellectuals that don’t pay any price for being wrong.

So think about all this, the next time you hear someone talk about the pending doom, unless of course we take their advice.

H/T Cafe Hayek

At Least Read the Book

February 12, 2010 3 comments

This little rant is in regards to this book review.

Matt Yglesias is a useful idiot. I know I should say idiot but what else do you call someone that will writes a snarky post about a book, Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society. Yet, can’t even read it himself, instead outsourcing his review to another’s review that doesn’t even talk about the content of the book itself! Instead talking about why Sowell is angry? WTF

<Start rant>

Sowell is the man. If it weren’t for Sowell I never would have known who Hayek or Mises were, well got to give credit to Obama as well. If it weren’t for the Stimulus talk last year, I never would have read Applied Economics which got me interested in Economics in the first place, then lead me to Bastiat. Somehow in reading Applied Economics I did a search for broken window fallacy, which lead me to Hazlitt and then to Mises.org.
I know Sowell isn’t exactly Austrian but I hold him in high regards.
The review is typical of most progressive reviews. You can read the likes of them at amazon, usually they say, “I haven’t read the book yet, but…” then they go into some partisan rant that has nothing to do with the actual material in the book.
It’s all because they don’t want people to read it. They know the power that is on those pages. They know when people actually read, think and decide for themselves they will no longer be beholden to the “authorities” (Krugman, Yglesias etc). They don’t like that. They don’t like people choosing for themselves because they know, when given all the facts and a good logical argument, their side always loses. Socialism always loses. The only way they can get people to buy into it is by controlling the message.

When you read a partisan review like that, you know that your going to get some really good stuff if you read it. When I’m reading reviews at amazon, I always go for the 1 star reviews, if they are filled with partisan rants that have nothing to do with the actual book, I go ahead and buy the book. I haven’t been disappointed yet.

Anyone who has actually read Sowell or has heard or seen him talk knows that the man is smart and has a lot of good things to say. In the typical “liberal” fashion, liberals don’t want you to hear what he has to say, so they relay on ad hominum, because they know their own arguments are not very well grounded.

/rant

Categories: Books, Conservative, Liberal, Sowell