Virtually anything written by Thomas Sowell is worth reading, especially his writings on race and ethnic groups. Walter Williams reviews Sowell’s latest book, Discrimination and Disparities, at lewrockwell.com:
I don’t mind saying that this column represents a grossly understated review of “Discrimination and Disparities,” just published by my longtime friend and colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell. In less than 200 pages, Sowell lays waste to myth after myth not only in the United States but around the globe.
One of those myths is that but for the fact of discrimination, we’d all be proportionately represented in socio-economic characteristics, such as career, income, education and incarceration. The fact of business is that there is no evidence anywhere on earth, at any time in human history, that demonstrates that but for discrimination, there would be proportionate representation in anything by race, sex, nationality or any other human characteristic. Sowell shows that socio-economic outcomes differ vastly among individuals, groups and nations in ways that cannot be explained by any one factor, whether it’s genetics, discrimination or some kind of exploitation.
A study of National Merit Scholarship finalists shows that firstborns are finalists more often than their multiple siblings combined. Data from the U.S., Germany and Britain show that the average IQ of firstborns is higher than the average IQ of their later siblings. Such outcomes challenge those who believe that heredity or one’s environment is the dominant factor in one’s academic performance. Moreover, the finding shows that if there is not equality among people born to the same parents and living under the same roof, why should equality of outcomes be expected under other conditions?
In Chapter 2, Sowell provides evidence that people won’t take racial discrimination at any cost. The higher its cost the less it will be tolerated, and vice versa. One example is segregated seating on municipal transit in the South. Many companies were privately owned, and their decision-makers understood that they could lose profits by offending their black customers by establishing segregated seating. Transportation companies fought against laws mandating racially segregated seating, both politically and in the courts, but lost. Companies even chose to ignore the law. Faced with heavy fines, though, they began to comply with the law.
To continue reading: Discrimination and Disparities