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An ignored “disparity”

Yesterday Thomas Sowell released a four-part series of columns drawing on his vast research on ethnic and cultural differences. Here are links to each of the four columns and a salient quote from each:

An ignored “disparity”:

Gross inequalities in skills and achievements have been the rule, not the exception, on every inhabited continent and for centuries on end. Yet our laws and government policies act as if any significant statistical difference between racial or ethnic groups in employment or income can only be a result of their being treated differently by others.

An ignored “disparity,” part 2:

Statistics are often thrown around in the media, showing that people with college degrees earn higher average salaries than people without them. But such statistics lump together apples and oranges — and lemons.

An ignored “disparity,” part 3:

Historical happenstances — the fact that the Romans invaded Western Europe but not Eastern Europe, for example — left a legacy of written languages in Western Europe that people in Eastern Europe did not have until centuries later.

But the innumerable factors affecting human achievements are not only complex and hard to untangle, they offer neither politicians nor intellectuals the opportunity to simply be on the side of the angels against the forces of evil. Factors which present no opportunity to star in a moral melodrama have often been ignored in favor of factors that do.

An ignored “disparity,” part 4:

[M]undane explanations of gross disparities are seldom emotionally satisfying — least of all to those on the short end of these disparities. With the rise over time of an indigenous intelligentsia in Eastern Europe and the growing influence of mass politics, more emotionally satisfying explanations emerged, such as oppression, exploitation and the like.

Since human beings have seldom been saints, whether in Eastern Europe or elsewhere, there were no doubt many individual flaws and shortcomings among the non-indigenous elites to complain of.

Please read the whole thing! Readers interested in the subject should know that Sowell has written three related books on the subject, beginning with Race and Culture: A World View. He has drawn on something like a lifetime of learning to write these four columns.

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