Discrimination and Disparities II

Discrimination and Disparities by Dr. Thomas Sowell
Discrimination and Disparities by Dr. Thomas Sowell

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- Last week's column discussed Dr. Thomas Sowell's newest book “Discrimination and Disparities,” which is an enlarged and revised edition of an earlier version. In this review, I am going to focus on one of his richest chapters titled “Social Visions and Human Consequences.” Sowell challenges the seemingly invincible fallacy “that group outcomes in human endeavors would tend to be equal, or at least comparable or random, if there were no biased interventions, on the one hand, nor genetic deficiencies, on the other.” But disparate impact statistics carries the day among academicians, lawyers and courts as evidence of discrimination.

Sowell gives the example of blacks, who make up close to 70 percent of NFL and AFL players in professional football. Blacks are greatly overrepresented among star players but almost nonexistent among field goal kickers and punters. Probably the only reason why lawsuits are not brought against team owners is that the same people hire running backs and field goal kickers. One wonders whether anyone has considered the possibility that professional black players do not want to be punters and field goal kickers?

Different social classes raise their children differently. Studies have shown that children whose parents are professional heard more words per hour than children whose families are on welfare. Studies show that professional parents used “more words and more different words … more multiclause sentences, more past and future verb tenses. … The ratio of affirmative words to negative words was six to one with parents who had professional occupation.” By contrast, families on welfare used discouraging words more than two to one: words such as “Don't,” “Stop,” “Quit,” and “Shut up.” Sowell sarcastically asks are we to believe that children raised in such different ways, many years before they reach an employer, a college admissions office or crime scene are the same in capabilities, orientation and limitations?

Social justice warriors ignore many differences that have little or nothing to do with discrimination but have an enormous impact on outcomes. Age is one of those factors. Median age differences between groups, sometimes of a decade or two will have an enormous impact on observed group outcomes. The median age for American Jews is slightly over 50 years old and that of Latinos is 28. Just on median age alone, would one be surprised at significant group income disparity and other differences related to age?

Sowell says that a single inconspicuous difference in circumstance can make a huge historical difference in human outcomes. During the 1840s, Ireland experienced a potato famine. Potatoes were the principle food of the Irish. That famine led to the deaths of a million people and caused 2 million to flee. The same variety of potato that was grown in Ireland was also grown in the U.S. with no crop failure. The source of Ireland's crop failure has been traced to a fertilizer used on both sides of the Atlantic. The difference was that fertilizer contained a fungus that thrived in the mild and moist climate of Ireland but did not in the hot, dry climate of Idaho and other potato growing areas of the U.S. That one small difference caused massive human tragedy.

A study of National Merit Scholarship finalists found that firstborn children were finalists far more often than their younger siblings. In the U.S. and other countries such as Britain and Germany, the firstborn's IQs were higher than their siblings. Among medical students, a high proportion are firstborn. Sowell asks that if equality of outcomes don't exist among people with the same parents, raised in the same household, why would one expect equality of outcomes elsewhere?

Morally neutral factors such as crop failures, birth order, geographic setting, and demographic or cultural differences are among the reasons why economic and social outcomes fail to fit the preconceived notions of “experts.”

The bottom line about Sowell's new book, “Discrimination and Disparities,” is that it contains a wealth of data and analysis that turns much of the thinking of politicians, academicians, legal experts and judges into pure, unadulterated mush.

About Walter E.WilliamsWalter E.Williams

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. Williams is also the author of several books. Among these are The State Against Blacks, later made into a television documentary, America: A Minority Viewpoint, All It Takes Is Guts, South Africa's War Against Capitalism, More Liberty Means Less Government, Liberty Versus The Tyranny of Socialism, and recently his autobiography, Up From The Projects.

  • 11 thoughts on “Discrimination and Disparities II

    1. “The bottom line about Sowell’s new book, “Discrimination and Disparities,” is that it contains a wealth of data and analysis that turns much of the thinking of politicians, academicians, legal experts and judges into pure, unadulterated mush.”
      Too bad that these same “politicians, academicians, legal experts and judges” will continue to ignore the facts and persist in spreading their lies. The purposeful ignorance of these groups is a crime upon humanity.

    2. the “Potato Famine “…was happening in mostly western Ireland ..where the people were poor “tenant ” ( almost slaves ) farmers on less than 5 acres ( 70 % of the Irish population ) and when the potatoes failed the English landlords evicted the “tenants ” where they left or starved …and at the same time there were very large and profitable exports of grain fruit and cattle by English ( large ) landowners in eastern Ireland …so food was available ..just not to the poor peasants of western Ireland …1,445,587 Irish emigrated ( mostly to the U.S.) and 1,383,350 died ( the English probably kept that number lower than it should have been ) . There are reasons why the Irish still do not like the English .

    3. Leave it to the amazing Thomas Sowell to look more deeply into the Irish Potato Famine and uncover the issue of the fungus in the fertiliser appllied….. he just does not “think outside the box”, for him there IS no box.

      Whaddya speck from a guy with his history….. he HAD to discard the box into which he was born in order to rise up. He should write a new book ( i KNOW he’s still got another book or three inside him) entitled “Up From Social Slavery”. Fir it truly IS a form of social slavery that has facilitated the perceived limitations put upon blacks,, latinos, somalians, indians (native American type) by themselves to “justify” or excuse their continued mediocrity……

      And don’t be fooled, Walter Williams falls into that same category. I wondered for years whether those two did not know each other and correspond. Lately this has been richly confirmed by both of them. Two American treasures and a big Thank You to Ammoland for contuing to put these men and their work, in front of us.

    4. Generally, your outcomes in life go back to being poor or being rich. Rich parents have more time, resources and motivation to do the best for their kids. Why are a lot of black people poor? Certainly it has something to do with them being slaves until 160 years ago and a legal underclass until 60 years ago. But, I believe we will start to see outcomes improve naturally through the free market as blacks rise from the lower class into the middle class, as we saw all through the latter quarter of the 20th century, and from the middle into the upper classes, as we are seeing now in the 21st. The same upward curve (albeit at an earlier point in our history) can be seen for Italians, Jews, and the Irish.

      1. Slavery has nothing to do with today, or 70, 80, or 90 years ago. If you know anything about history people of all colors/races have been slaves at one time since the beginning of man. It’s time we move past all that. Each human are the choices they’ve made, you make bad choices expect a bad outcome and so on. Rich, poor, black or white we all can achieve our goals in life. All we got to do is work for it. Again it’s all left up if a person wants to continue living in a rut like they’re ancestors have and still do since Spain brought them to the Americas. The skies the limit go for it.

    5. If black culture looked to men like Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell as role models instead of sports stars and rappers….their lives would improve more than they could ever imagine.

      1. Black children shouldn’t be looking to famous people for how to live their lives. They should do what I and millions of other American children have done; look to their Fathers for guidance. Oh, wait, that’s right……

      2. If white progressive “politicians, academicians, legal experts and judges” stopped looking at “black people” as chattel and votes “Black Lives Would Matter”.

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