The ‘Disparate Impact’ Racket by Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell takes a look at the two reports about the Ferguson Missouri shooting of Micheal Brown, issued by Eric Holder’s Justice Department, in this article titled, The ‘Disparate Impact’ Racket.

In the article Dr. Sowell talks about the difference between the hard evidence and facts used in the first report that proved Brown was in the wrong, and the “sweeping assumptions” and “misleading statistics” used to condemn the Ferguson Police Department as racist in the second report.

Here are some excerpts from the article.

“According to the second report, law enforcement in Ferguson has a “disparate impact” on blacks and is “motivated” by “discriminatory intent”.”
“Like many other uses of “disparate impact” statistics, the Justice Department’s evidence against the Ferguson police department consists of numbers showing that the percentage of people stopped by police or fined in court is larger than the percentage of blacks in the local population.”

“The implicit assumption is that such statistics about particular outcomes would normally reflect the percentage of people in the population. But, no matter how plausible this might seem on the surface, it is seldom found in real life, and those who use that standard are seldom, if ever, asked to produce hard evidence that it is factually correct, as distinct from politically correct.”

“Blacks are far more statistically “over-represented” among basketball stars in the NBA than among people stopped by police in Ferguson. Hispanics are similarly far more “over-represented” among baseball stars than in the general population. Asian Americans are likewise far more “over-represented” among students at leading engineering schools like M.I.T. and Cal Tech than in the population as a whole.”

“None of this is peculiar to the United States. You can find innumerable examples of such group disparities in countries around the world and throughout recorded history.

“Even with things whose outcomes are not in human hands, “disparate impact” is common. Men are struck by lightning several times as often as women. Most of the tornadoes in the entire world occur in the middle of the United States.”

“Since the population of Ferguson is 67 percent black, the greatest possible “over-representation” of blacks among those stopped by police or fined by courts is 50 percent. That would not make the top 100 disparities in the United States or the top 1,000 in the world.

THE MYTH OF PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION

Here is a video of a younger Dr. Sowell addressing statistical disparities with host William F. Buckley on Firing Line.

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