Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Wit and Wisdom of Thomas Sowell

As you know, Thomas Sowell has retired from column writing. He is 86 years old, so one understands if he feels that he needed a break.

Sowell was not only one of our great minds. He was resolutely determined never to allow ideology to blind him to the facts. And he was especially talented at communicating his thoughts in clear, cogent and coherent prose.

We will all miss his columns.

To mark the occasion Kerry Picket at The Daily Caller has collected a number of Sowell’s most witty and pithy and wise statements. I have selected a few of them for this post, as an appetizer:

The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.

The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.

When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.

People who pride themselves on their ‘complexity’ and deride others for being ‘simplistic’ should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth.

Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.

Some of the biggest cases of mistaken identity are among intellectuals who have trouble remembering that they are not God.

The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.

Virtually no idea is too ridiculous to be accepted, even by very intelligent and highly educated people, if it provides a way for them to feel special and important. Some confuse that feeling with idealism.

Whenever someone refers to me as someone ‘who happens to be black,’ I wonder if they realize that both my parents are black. If I had turned out to be Scandinavian or Chinese, people would have wondered what was going on.

Life does not ask what we want. It presents us with options.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Thomas Sowell's "The Vision of the Anointed" is one of the Top-10 books that has had the greatest impact on my life, thinking and belief system. Truly brilliant. Understanding his view of "Stage 1" and "Stage 2" thinking is priceless. He will be missed.

Dennis said...

One of my favorite writers and a man to truly respect. A small list of books written:

Wealth, Poverty and Politics, revised and enlarged edition (2016) Barnes & Noble
Wealth, Poverty and Politics (2015) Barnes & Noble
Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, 5th edition (2015) Barnes & Noble
Intellectuals and Race (2013) Barnes & Noble
Intellectuals and Society, second edition (2012) Barnes & Noble
Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, fourth edition (2011) Barnes & Noble
Intellectuals and Society (2010) Barnes & Noble
The Housing Boom and Bust, revised edition (2010) Barnes & Noble
The Housing Boom and Bust (2009) Barnes & Noble
Applied Economics:Thinking Beyand Stage One (2009) Barnes & Noble
Economic Facts and Fallacies (2008) Barnes & Noble
A Conflict of Visions: The Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, revised edition (2007) Barnes & Noble
Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, third edition (2007) Barnes & Noble
A Man of Letters (2007) Barnes & Noble
On Classical Economics (2006) Barnes & Noble
Black Rednecks and White Liberals (2005) Barnes & Noble
Affirmative Action Around the World (2004) Barnes & Noble
Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy, second edition (2004)
Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One (2003) Barnes & Noble
The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late (2001) Barnes & Noble
Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy (2000)
A Personal Odyssey (2000) Barnes & Noble
The Quest for Cosmic Justice (1999) Barnes & Noble
Conquests and Cultures: An International History (1998) Barnes & Noble
Late-Talking Children (1997) Barnes & Noble
Migrations and Cultures: A World View (1996) Barnes & Noble
The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for
Social Policy (1995) Barnes & Noble
Race and Culture: A World View (1994) Barnes & Noble
Inside American Education: The Decline, The Deception, The Dogmas (1993) Barnes & Noble
Preferential Policies: An International Perspective (1990) Barnes & Noble
Choosing a College: A Guide for Parents and Students (1989) Barnes & Noble
A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (1987) Barnes & Noble
Marxism: Philosophy and Economics (1985) Barnes & Noble
Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality (1984) Barnes & Noble
The Economics and Politics of Race: An International Perspective (1983) Barnes & Noble
Ethnic America: A History (1981) Barnes & Noble
Markets and Minorities (1981)
Knowledge and Decisions (1980) Barnes & Noble
Race and Economics (1975)
Classical Economics Reconsidered (1974) Barnes & Noble
Say's Law: An Historical Analysis (1972)
Black Education: Myths and Tragedies (1972)
Economics: Analysis and Issues (1971)

Dennis said...

Eat your heart out Paul Krugman.

Trigger Warning said...

My two favorite books were Vision of Anointed and Black Rednecks, in that order, cited above. His columns were always interesting, and I loved the random thoughts collections.

Not Sowellian, but one of my favorite Anointed jokes is

Q: What's the difference between Barack Obama and God?
A: God doesn't think he's Barack Obama.

Sam L. said...

Paullie "The Beard" Krugman will ignore you, Dennis. His loss.