Posted tagged ‘Discrimination And Disparities’

Thomas Sowell: Discrimination and Disparities

May 31, 2018

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is my favorite author. It was my great fortune to have stumbled upon his books in the mid 90’s. Dr Sowell has the ability to make complex concepts understandable to regular people like you and me. He digs into statistics from various studies and figures out what they reveal and what they do not reveal. He is an economist by trade. This background allows him to see discernible patterns that are hidden to most of us.

His writings have equipped me with a series of questions that I ask myself when confronted with any issue or anyone speaking about an issue. Here are the questions.

– Compared to what?

– At what cost?

-Is what is being compared, comparable?

– And then what?

– Numbers? In what context?

– Can someone be ethical while being political and can someone be unbiased while being an advocate?

– What is important is not what decision should be made? The real question is who is to make the decision? Through what process? Under what incentives and constraints? With what feedback mechanism?

If you remember these questions the chances of being fooled decreases exponentially.


Although Dr. Sowell does not write his weekly column anymore, fortunately for us he is still writing books.

Dr. Sowell has written a new book titled “Discrimination and Disparities“. Dr. Sowell is being interviewed by Peter Robinson in this interview on Uncommon Knowledge. It will be a great investment of your time to listen to Dr. Sowell in this interview.

Here are some excerpts from the video:

“The fact that economic and other outcomes often differ greatly among individuals, groups, institutions and nations poses questions to which many people give very different answers. At one end of the spectrum…..The belief that those who have been less fortunate…..are genetically less capable. At the other end….. the belief that those less fortunate are victims of other people…..”

“Disparities can also reflect the plain fact that success in many kinds of endeavors depends on prerequisites peculiar to each endeavor and a relatively small differences in meeting those prerequisites can mean a very large difference in outcomes.”

“Professor Turman of Stanford did an empirical study where he picked something like 1500 people who had IQ’s in the top one percent. And he followed them for 50 years to see how they turned out…..The disparaties within that narrow range……the top third had more than ten times as many post grad degrees as the bottom third among people who were all in the top one percent. So there is obviously many other things that had to come together…..The other thing was that two people who failed to make the 140 IQ cut off ended up getting Nobel Prizes in physics, and nobody among the 1500 ever did. So obviously there has to be a lot of things that come together…..”

“The biggest differentiating factor in this study was family backgrounds. The ones who were in the top third came from families who were more educated. The ones who were in the bottom third had a parent who had dropped out of school before the eighth grade. So it doesn’t matter how much brain power you may have, if you are not raised in a home where people are thinking, where they’re doing intellectual things, you are not in the same position as someone with the same IQ who is in a family that has that kind of background. This blows the genetic argument is ruled out-of-bounds in terms of smarts. But so is the argument that anybody victimized them. The principle factors that accounted for success as opposed to failure was family background. That’s not really victimization, that’s a question of almost cosmic luck…. Too many observers….reason as if Intentions automatically translate directly into outcomes.”

The only times over which we have any degree of influence at all are the present and the future. Both of which can be made worse by attempts at symbolic restitution among the living for what happened among the dead who are far beyond our power to help or punish or avenge. Any serious consideration of the world as it is around us today must tell us that maintaining any common decency, much less peace and harmony among living contemporaries, is a major challenge both among nations and within nations. To admit that we can do nothing about what happened among the dead is not to give up the struggle for a better world, but to concentrate our efforts where they have at least some hope of making things better for the living.


Related Posts

Thomas Sowell: Wealth, Poverty and Politics, at

Thomas Sowell: “Economic Problems Don’t Have Political Solutions”, at

Thomas Sowell: Vision Of The Anointed, at

Thomas Sowell: The Economics And Politics Of Race, at

Michelle Obama vs. Thomas Sowell On The Politics Of Race, at

The ‘Disparate Impact’ Racket By Thomas Sowell, at

Thomas Sowell: Human Capital More Important Than Physical Capital, at

If you type Thomas Sowell in the search box you, will be treated to more of his writings.