Thomas Sowel Quotes

-criminal activity in general has tended to vary inversely with the risk of imprisonment. -- P. 48

The charge is often made against the intelligentsia and other members of the anointed that their theories and the policies based on them lack common sense. But the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else? — P. 248

Even though educators consider themselves to be thinking people,' there is a remarkable absence of substantive arguments in their response to critics. These responses include evading the specifics of the criticisms and arbitrarily attributing Utopian beliefs to critics. -- P. 249

While the pay of such workers is often low by comparison with that of workers in more affluent industrial societies, so too is their productivity. An international consulting firm determined that the average labor productivity in the modern sectors in India is 15 percent of that in the United States. In other words, if you hired an average Indian worker and paid him one-fifth of what you paid an average American worker, it would cost you more to get a given amount of work done in India than in the United States. -- P. 41

On issue after issue, the morally self anointed visionaries have for centuries argued as if no honest disagreement were possible, as if those who opposed them were not merely in error but in sin. -- P. 103

History as a balm for wounded egos is likewise suspect. -- P. 252

There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs.

Africa itself used large numbers of slaves in all sorts of agricultural, domestic, military, and even commercial and governmental enterprises. -- P. 188

Some seem to argue as if any historical or contemporary source of unhappiness which a government could have prevented is something for which it should be held morally accountable-regardless of whether the government or the society created the source of unhappiness. -- P. 249

In general, warfare between whites and Indians was less common during the colonial era than warfare among the Indians, fighting with one another for access to European settlements. -- P. 296

Perhaps the purest example of an argument without an argument is to say that something is 'inevitable'. This is an inherently irrefutable argument, so long as any time remains in the future. -- P. 101

Life does not ask what we want. It presents us with options. Economics is just one of the ways of trying to make the most of those options. -- P. 4

The presumed irrationality of the public is a pattern running through many, if not most or all, of the great crusades of the anointed in the twentieth century–regardless of the subject matter of the crusade or the field in which it arises. Whether the issue has been ‘overpopulation,’ Keynesian economics, criminal justice, or natural resource exhaustion, a key assumption has been that the public is so irrational that the superior wisdom of the anointed must be imposed, in order to avert disaster. The anointed do not simply happen to have a disdain for the public. Such disdain is an integral part of their vision, for the central feature of that vision is preemption of the decisions of others. — P. 123-124

In the summer of 1959, I worked as a clerk-typist in the headquarters of the U.S. Public Health Service in Washington. The people I worked for were very nice and I grew to like them. One day, a man had a heart attack at around 5 PM, on the sidewalk outside the Public Health Service. He was taken inside to the nurse's room, where he was asked if he was a government employee. If he were, he would have been eligible to be taken to a medical facility there. Unfortunately, he was not, so a phone call was made to a local hospital to send an ambulance. By the time this ambulance made its way through miles of Washington rush-hour traffic, the man was dead. He died waiting for a doctor, in a building full of doctors. Nothing so dramatized for me the nature of a bureaucracy and its emphasis on procedures, rather than results.

Both internally and internationally, Western intellectuals have for centuries romanticized 'noble savages' in various parts of the world, peoples who supposedly lived in some sort of Eden before evil was introduced from outside by modern Western society. Facts about the carnage, oppression, or brutality in such societies have been gilded over, totally ignored, or brazenly denied by those pursuing a vision- and disseminating that vision through their writings, teachings, motion pictures and other channels. -- P. 351

Education and acculturation in general spread very unevenly among American Negroes- first reaching the house servants and later the field hands, first the free then the slaves, first the mulattos and then the blacks. These large historical social disparities within the African origin population of the United States were reflected in the fact that some American Negroes graduated from college before slavery was abolished...Throughout the era of slavery, free mulattos in the Western Hemisphere tended to distance themselves socially from blacks, both slave and free...the elite among American Negroes tended to remain, for generations after emancipation, a distinctly lighter-complexioned and socially exclusive group. -- P. 164 - 165

Once again, the mundane reality is that productivity creates wealth, so that trade with and investment in more productive countries is a far more important source of wealth than 'exploitation' of the Third World, however elusive the term might be defined. -- P. 333

If nothing else, history can help dissolve the provincialism of time and place, and the hypocrisy of selective moral indignation. -- P. 224

forced to walk across the vast, burning sands of the Sahara, was twice as high...It has been estimated that, for every slave to reach Cairo alive, ten died on the way...A special danger to men and boys was castration, to produce the eunuchs widely used in Islamic countries for work in the harems...An estimated ninety percent of the men or boys died from the operation -- P. 154 - 155

Nothing is easier to find than sins and shortcomings among human beings, regardless of their race. -- P. 262