The smart set put down those they label "popularizers". Or mere popularizers. This is silly for several reasons. Many people can be clear and smart at the same time. Tom Sowell is a prominent example but the list is long. And in a world of comparative advantage, there are many niches to be populated. And the many popularizers laugh all the way to the bank. And many of them (almost by definition) greatly enrich our lives.
Two that I have recently encountered (whose works are known to many readers) are Bill Bryson and Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
For holiday nonfiction book givers, Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything and Taleb's Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets are something(s) to consider.