Thomas Sowel Quotes

mathematics, is that many students are confident incompetents, whether discussing social issues, world events, or other subjects. -- P. 5

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

Comparing never-married women and men who are past the child-bearing years and who both work full-time in the twenty-first century shows women of this description earning more than men of the same description. ..For women in general- that is, not just academic women- those single women who had worked continuously since high school were in 1971 earning slightly more than men of the same description. All this before affirmative action was defined as 'under-representation' in a 1971 Executive Order which went into effect in 1972, and so represents what was happening under competitive labor market pressures before any major government intervention to advance women. -- P. 77

An airport, a hospital, or a sports arena is considered desegregated when everyone has the opportunity to use it. Regardless of what proportions of people from what groups actually use it. But a school with exactly the same racial proportions as an audience attending an opera or passengers using Dulles Airport could easily be served with a federal court order to desegregate, while other institutions would not be. -- P. 64

Understanding the limitations of human beings is the beginning of wisdom. -- Chapter: "Police Shootings"

One of the ways to promote the ideology of equality is by defining various inequalities of performance out of existence. This cultural relativism refuses to classify some societies as civilized and others as backward or primitive. Whether comparing nations or subgroups within nations, cultural relativists proclaim all cultures and subcultures to be 'equally valid' and entitled to 'equal respect' as we 'celebrate diversity'... The bitter irony is that all this philosophical self-indulgence widens the empirical gap in the name of narrowing it. -- P. 74 - 75

The percentage of employed blacks who were professional and technical workers rose less in the five years following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than in the five years preceding it. -- P. 49

Far more important than particular reckless policies, even those with such deadly consequences as weakening the criminal law, is a whole mindset in which omnicompetence is implicitly assumed and unhappy social phenomena are presumed to be unjustified morally and remediable intellectually and politically. Inherent constraints of circumstances or people are brushed aside, as are alternative policy approaches which offer no special role for the anointed. The burden of proof is not put on their vision, but on existing institutions. -- P. 110

Rights in the sense of exemptions from the power of government are very different from rights to things that can be provided only by incurring costs. Your right to free speech does not require someone else to pay for broadcasting what you say or to publish it in a newspaper or magazine. But if you have a right to water, then others are forced to pay the inescapable costs of getting it for you. -- P. 28

Civilization has been aptly called a ‘thin crust over a volcano’. The anointed are constantly picking at that crust. — P. 250

Many of the words and phrases used in the media and among academics suggest that things simply happen to people, rather than be being caused by their own choices and behavior. Thus there is said to be an ‘epidemic’ of teenage pregnancy, or of drug usage, as if these things were like the flu that people catch just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. — P. 198

For those with the vision of the anointed, it is not sufficient to discredit or denigrate proponents of the tragic vision. The general public must also be discredited, as well as the social processes through which the public‘s desires are expressed, individually or collectively, such as a market economy or social traditions. -- P. 119

The indigenous population of the Western Hemisphere was all but exterminated by their sudden exposure to the diseases of Europe and Africa-far more so than by the military campaigns which occupy so much of history. -- P. 78

-there are two competing sets of people who wish to use the same resources in different ways. Property rights allow this competition to take place in the marketplace, while court-sanctioned abridgements of property rights allow the competition to take place through a political process in which only one set of competitors can vote. -- P. 104

The battle for civil rights was fought and won- at great cost- many years ago. Like any fundamental human achievement, these rights cannot be taken for granted and must be safeguarded. But civil rights are not protected or enhanced by the growing practice of calling every issue raised by 'spokesmen' for minority, female, elderly, or other groups, 'civil rights' issues...Equal treatment does not mean equal results. Everything desirable is not a civil right. -- P. 109

Media and even academic preoccupation with instant snapshot statistics create major distortions of economic reality. 'The rich' and 'the poor' have become staples of income discussions, even though most of the people in the top and bottom income categories are the same people at different stages of their lives, rather than fixed classes of people who remain at the top and bottom throughout their lives. -- P. 168

Edward, for example, was a popular name in Virginia and in Wessex, from which many Virginians emigrated, but the first forty classes of undergraduates at Harvard College included only one student named Edward. It would be nearly two centuries before Harvard admitted anyone named Patrick, though this was a common name in western Pennsylvania, where the Scotch-Irish were settled. -- P. 82

According to this vision (constrained) wars are a perfectly rational activity from the standpoint of those who anticipate gain for themselves, their class, or their nation, whether or not these anticipations are often mistaken, as all human calculations may be. -- P. 143

Where discrimination is distinguished from differences in life chances, the empirical question is whether individuals of similar qualifications have similar prospects of employment, college admission, and other benefits when they come from different groups. Where there are substantial differences in qualifying characteristics among groups, as there often are, the question then becomes: What of those particular individuals who have the same qualifying characteristics as members of other groups? Do they have the same prospects or results? -- P. 180

The Eugenics movement sought to limit the reproduction of 'inferior' individuals and races, so as to prevent the lowering of the national intelligence in future generations. Planned Parenthood was founded not simply as an organization for limiting the size of families in general but more particularly to reduce the reproduction of the black population in the United States, as Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger herself noted. -- P. 193