Thomas Sowel Quotes

If food were categorically more important than music, then we would never reach a point where we were prepared to sacrifice resources that could be used to produce food in order to produce music...A world where food had categorical priority over music would be a world of 300-pound people, whose brief lives would never be brightened by a song or a melody. -- P. 138

-one of the important advantages of a prevailing vision is that it is so easily and unconsciously absorbed from those around us, without our having to take the trouble to think about it. A prevailing vision is, in computer terms, the 'default setting' for our opinions on a whole spectrum of issues. It is what we believe in general when we have no special reason to believe otherwise. -- P. 135

-exploration of the vision of the anointed will begin with its greatest achievement and its greatest danger which are one and the same: That vision has become self-contained and self-justifying- which is to say, independent of empirical evidence. That is what makes it dangerous, not because a particular set of policies may be flawed or counterproductive, but because insulation from evidence virtually guarantees a never ending supply of policies and practices fatally independent from reality. This self contained and self justifying vision has become a badge of honor and a proclamation of identity: To affirm it is to be one of us and to oppose it is to be one of them. Moreover, the pervasiveness of the vision of the anointed at all levels of the American educational system ensures future supplies of people indoctrinated with this vision and also convinced that they should 'make a difference,'- that public policy is seen as ego gratification from imposing one‘s vision on other people through the power of government. -- P. 241

-trees that newspapers are made from automatically recycled themselves for thousands of years before human being figured out how to plant seeds. -- P. 312

Property rights create self-monitoring, which tend to be both more effective and less costly than third party monitoring. . . It is things not owned by anybody (air and water for example) which are polluted. -- P. 243

People were enslaved because they were vulnerable, not because of how they looked. -- P. 113

When the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 1954 that separate schools were inherently inferior, within walking distance of the Court was an all-black public school whose performance had equaled or surpassed that of white schools in the District of Columbia for more than 80 years. -- P. 83

Although advocates of the 'overpopulation' theory argue that rising population threatens to create more poverty, virtually no one can provide examples of countries that had a higher standard of living when their population was half of what it is today. -- P. 204

Research findings have consistently shown black females to have higher IQ test scores, and most other test scores, than black males in the United States. The same was true among Jews when they scored low on mental tests in the past. However, among white- raised black orphans with an average IQ of 106, there was no female advantage, suggesting that the striking predominance of females among high-IQ blacks is an environmental rather than a racial phenomenon. -- P. 171

It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it. -- Chapter: What Society Expends?

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.

Over the past two decades, in every field surveyed by the Council of Graduate Schools, the proportion of graduate degrees in the United States going to Americans has declined. -- P. 269

The knowledge of how to build replacements is far more important than the physical things in which that knowledge is embodied at a given moment. So long as the human capital is not destroyed, the physical destruction can always be repaired or replaced. -- P. 336

Back in the eighteenth century, Adam Smith, himself a professor, pointed out how the faculty of endowed academic institutions are enabled to indulge themselves in ways that they would not be able to in an enterprise dependent on its performance for its survival. -- P. 88

Many racial policies continually add to the pile of combustible material, which only needs the right political arsonist to set it off. -- P. 118

What a student can judge is how well the professor conveyed the information in the course- how clearly the material was presented and how interesting it seemed- but what the student is not equipped to judge is what information and conflicting analysis was left out. -- P. 96

The more highly competitive the market for labor and for the employer‘s products, the higher the cost paid for discrimination and consequently the less leeway the employer has for indulging his prejudices without risking his own profits and ultimately the financial survival of the business. On the other hand, enterprises not subject to the full stress of a competitive market- monopolies, non-profit enterprises, government agencies- have greater leeway. -- P. 74

People sort themselves out residentially around the world, not only by race and ethnicity but also by income, education, lifestyle, and other characteristics. . . Observers who presuppose that a random distribution of people is desirable often see residential sorting as a 'problem' to be 'solved,' usually by governmental action. Often this view is accompanied by an assumption that housing segregation is irrational or can be an expression of prejudice or animosity toward another group. -- P. 104

The anointed do not simply happen to have a distain for the public. Such distain is an integral part of their vision, for the central feature of that vision is preemption of the decisions of others. -- P. 124

Empirical evidence strongly indicates that racial discrimination tends to be greater when the costs are lower and lower when the costs are greater. -- P. 142