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.

5 comments:

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