August 9th, 2017

Tribute to Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a kind of hero of mine. I’ve written about him many times before, and I miss him since his (well-earned) retirement. He’s one of the clearest and most original thinkers as well as one of the most elegantly parsimonious in his writing style. In addition, the guy is fearless.

Here’s a quote from a tribute to Sowell that I found in a link at Powerline:

…[T]he ability to see things as they really are engenders hostility from countless factions in thrall to countless illusions. To persevere throughout a lifetime of opposition seemingly without the slightest perturbation or instability of judgment requires the rarest of temperaments and an extraordinary measure of courage.

If you’re not familiar with Sowell’s work, read him and/or watch some of the myriad YouTube videos of interviews with him over the years. He was a political changer, by the way.

18 Responses to “Tribute to Thomas Sowell”

  1. Matthew Says:

    Thomas Sowell is our greatest thinker. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m often disgusted by commentators on the right as on the left. Sean Hannity is as smug as Bill Maher. Ann Coulter as vitriolic as many feminists.

    I never felt that way about Sowell. He presents his opinions in clear, logical fashion.

  2. Stu Says:

    I read Knowledge and Decisions at least twenty years ago and have avidly consumed his subsequent books. His interests have been wide ranging and I have benefitted from his work in a number of fields.

  3. parker Says:

    Sowell is to put it simply, a national treasure.

  4. Sharon W Says:

    Been reading him since my college days. Great tribute that succinctly touches on rare virtues.

  5. Big Maq Says:

    Was introduced to Sowell via Friedman – both great thinkers and great explainers.

    Regularly read both their columns. Had a hard time disagreeing with much of anything they said.

  6. J.J. Says:

    He is also one of my heroes. Reading his books and essays always feels like you are sitting at the feet of a giant intellect who is favoring you with his vast knowledge and wisdom. I always feel “smarter” after reading Sowell.

    Though he is best known for his economic and political writing, he was also interested in geography and how it affected the fortunes of nations. His essay on the tragedy of Africa shows how geography has played a part in Africa’s lack of progress. Read it here:

    A far ranging intellect and curiosity seldom seen.

  7. expat Says:

    It’s not just his intellect. It’s that he finds the facts before opening his mouth. I have learned so much from reading him. He should be required reading in every school and college.

  8. Romey Says:

    Thomas Sowell is a true giant among men. He has a way of writing in terms that practically anyone can understand, and he speaks of his ideas without presumption and is incredibility cordial.

    If there is such a thing as a man crush, this is it!

  9. Alan F Says:

    I agree with all this praise. I was immediately enthralled with is bold challenges to orthodoxy. His logic is impeccable and concise. Every word and sentence is necessary to his argument and nothing more.

    He is also a talented photographer. Check out .

  10. Sean Says:

    One of the things I love most about Sowell is his take-down of intellectuals. It takes a special kind of unorthodox intellectual to devote much of his authorial career to pulling his own kind off the pedestal they’ve placed themselves on. Being an intellectual, I get a perverse kick out of it.

    In any case, Thomas Sowell is a golden god and one of my biggest heroes. I agree with everything everyone here has said except I still don’t think we’re praising him highly enough.

  11. Sean Says:

    He should be required reading in every school and college.

    It’s a shame I’m not Betsy DeVos, otherwise I’d make ‘The Vision of the Anointed’ a required part of the curriculum in every high school in the country.

  12. John Guilfoyle Says:

    If the Republican party had any guts or sense Mr Sowell would have been the first Black President and not Bill Clinton.


  13. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    Thomas Sowell is someone I am in awe of. So much intelligence in just one human being. John Guilfoyle is right, he should have been the first Black President. I would certainly follow him!

  14. arfldgrs Says:

    yeah, but have you read kenyan economist shikawaty? really really good too… and then there is hayek who most will quote, but like marx few actually ever read, and even fewer reading other things.

    why bother to read a man who got a nobel prize for disproving mrxism and making the arguments easy to understand for the public?

    its always suprised me that for a person searching and reading and so on, you never actually get to the key stuff that is NOT the easy common center… odd…

    how about:
    The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism

    could have saved years of oft repeated stuff
    like jokes we could number them and just say numbers

    In the book, Hayek seeks to refute socialism by demonstrating that socialist theories are not only logically incorrect, but that the premises they use are incorrect as well. To Hayek, civilizations grew because societal traditions placed importance on private property, leading to expansion, trade, and eventually the modern capitalist system and an extended order.[1] Hayek says this demonstrates a key flaw within socialist thought, which holds only purposefully designed changes can be most-efficient. Also, he says statist (e.g., “socialist”) economies cannot be efficient because dispersed knowledge is required in a modern economy. Additionally, Hayek asserts that since modern civilization, and all of its customs and traditions, naturally led to the current order and are needed for its continuance, fundamental changes to the system that try to control it is doomed to fail since they are impossible or unsustainable in modern civilization. Price signals are the only means of enabling each economic decision maker to communicate tacit knowledge or dispersed knowledge to each other, in order to solve the economic calculation problem.

    anyuone reading that an other texts would stop arguing about they dont know, or any argument that supposes some validity of action or behavior…

    they know..
    validity is irrelevent if invalidity wins against it

  15. arfldgrs Says:

    by the way, if you DONT know why i put that up in a sowell thing, then you dont know sowell

    at amazon
    The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek) Paperback – October 4, 1991

    The Fatal Conceit, by F.A. Hayek, is an economics book but does not dig into detailed economic theory or examine economic principles as such. Published when Hayek was 89, it summarizes what Hayek learned in a lifetime of study of the science of economics and the creation of human wealth.

    It is a justification and theoretical defense of classical liberalism, thereby providing an explanation of the assumptions and analysis underlying the free-market economic thinking of Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Walter E. Williams, and Hayek himself.

    The “Fatal Conceit” is the ancient belief that reason, particularly the reasoning of powerful or educated elites, can manage and operate the human economy (and the creation of wealth and wellbeing) more efficiently and more effectively than the extended order will operate on its own.

    Much like the discredited idea that modern biological and agricultural expertise can be utilized to manage the Serengeti better than it operates, and has operated for perhaps millions of years, on its own, progressivism and modern socialism update this millennia-old conceit by asserting that modern science and the rationality of the Enlightenment enable humans to intentionally control the details of creation, production, and distribution of human goods and services better than the self-organizing and self-regulating extended order of the free market.

    In the 1960s, the Ecology Movement explained that natural ecosystems were far too complex for human science and reason to control and that any artificial actions should be undertaken with humility, the expectation of unforeseeable consequences, and the very likely possibilities that those actions would have to be reversed.

    Hayek asserts that the ecology of human economics, the extended order, is vastly more complex, more dynamic, and more changeable than any natural ecosystem, hence even less amenable to rational control than nature. Limits and boundary conditions, yes, but control no.

  16. ConceptJunkie Says:

    I just wanted to chime in that while I always enjoyed the syndicated columns of a lot of people, Thomas Sowell was always my favorite.

    In addition to everything said here, he always came across, at least to me, as someone who would be great to know in person. He had harsh words for people and ideas that deserved them, but he never seemed like a harsh person, just a plain-spoken humble man who happens to be very smart.

    I always thought of him as a loving, grandfatherly type who would be very kind, but who has no tolerance for ridiculousness. That’s just a gut thing, but it’s one of the things that sets Sowell apart from other commentators.

  17. AesopFan Says:

    expat Says:
    August 9th, 2017 at 5:15 pm
    … It’s that he finds the facts before opening his mouth.
    * * *
    An attribute sorely lacking in all but a few writers.

  18. Ymar Sakar Says:

    A thinker like Sowell cannot save the US from itself. Not even a contest.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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