An Ignored ‘Disparity’: Part III

Thomas Sowell, Real Clear Politics, January 17, 2012

Anyone who has ever been in a Third World country, or even in a slum neighborhood at home, is likely to wonder why there can be such dire poverty among some people, while others are prospering.

{snip}

A hundred years ago, the prevailing answer was that some people are innately and genetically inferior. Not only was this answer thundered from political platforms in redneck dialect by politicians in the Jim Crow South, the same message was delivered in cultured and lofty tones from academic podiums in the most prestigious colleges and universities across the country.

Nor was this unique to the United States. In Britain, a study of high-achieving families by Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, concluded that the reason for their achievements was genetic superiority. From there it was a short step to seeing various races as genetically superior and inferior.

More ominously, Galton saw those who were inferior as a drag on society who should be eliminated. As often happens when a big idea seizes the imagination of the intelligentsia, their strongest argument is that there is no argument—that “science” has already proved what they believe.

As Sir Francis Galton put it: “there exists a sentiment, for the most part quite unreasonable, against the gradual extinction of an inferior race.”

The idea that those with different views had only “sentiment” on their side, while he had science, was common among intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic.

Eugenics—a term Galton coined—became a crusading creed, and eugenics societies were set up by such stellar intellectuals as John Maynard Keynes, H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw in England. In the United States there were 376 college courses devoted to eugenics in American colleges and universities in 1928.

By the end of the 20th century, the pendulum had swung to the opposite end of the spectrum. Now differences in achievements among classes, races or the sexes were seen as being a result of discriminatory treatment. And, again, as with the intelligentsia of the Progressive era, those with different views were dismissed with a word—often “racist” now, as compared to “sentimental” in the earlier period. But in neither era were views different from the crusading creed of the day seriously engaged.

{snip}

A very fundamental question was seldom asked, in either the earlier or the later period: Was there ever any realistic reason to expect the same achievements among races, classes or other subdivisions of the human species?

{snip}

On a more general level, could people living in isolated mountain valleys realistically be expected to develop their own intellectual potential as fully as people living in cities that were international crossroads of commerce, cultures and ideas from around the world?

When the Spaniards discovered the Canary Islands in the 15th century, they found people of a Caucasian race living at a stone age level. Isolation and backwardness have gone together in many parts of the world, regardless of the race of the people involved.

{snip}

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.

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  • Robert Binion

    If I were measuring feed corn or sweet potatoes, five cubic inches would be no big deal.  But cranial capacity?  Come on!

  • Dobiegillis

    Before everyone jumps on Tom Sowell for NOT believing race is a factor in intelligence just keep one thing in mind; it must be very lonely to be one of the few members of a group capable of critical thought.

  • Space4jan

    Galton publicly reprimanded Shaw for giving eugenics a bad name during an early public discussion (Shaw was always too free with the word “extermination” even in later writings).  The gradual extinction of crippling hereditary diseases and criminal dispositions, and the reduction of burdens on poor families and peoples by careful contraception, are not the same as physically eliminating cripples (or even criminals) themselves.  Someone once said to me: “So you want to get rid of people with cystic fibrosis.’ ‘No,’ I replied. ‘I want to get rid of it FROM people.’   It would also be a good idea to encourage the breeding of thinkers like Thomas Sowell rather than killers like those often noted in your news items.
    As for racial disparities, the question of diversity in adaptive traits and the statistical overlap in comparisons for specific traits must be kept in mind.  Also, different social arrangements suit different peoples.  See C. D. Darlington’s books on human genetics and history for clear explanations.

  • Earth to Newt Gingrich:  Please read this article, and fully grok it before you say stupid things in a debate like giving black and Hispanic high school students pretend jobs being janitors will lead to them owning their own businesses.

    • Oil Can Harry

      And Gingrich is assuming these ghetto thugs WANT to work but just can’t find jobs.

      While I’m no admirer of illegal aliens isn’t it amazing how some of them find work within days of sneaking into the country? This despite not speaking English or knowing their way around?

      And yet there are native-born people on welfare for decades who claim they can’t find work? Baloney.

    • or that blacks should ‘demand’ jobs as if they haven’t demanded enough already. how about earning a job?

      his comments lost my vote.

  • Emerson

    “Isolation and backwardness have gone together in many parts of the world, regardless of the race of the people involved.”

    400 years of exposure to whites didn’t help blacks get over their backwardness. How many centuries does it take? Well it takes 20,000 years of living on the ice fields of northern Europe, Russia, China and Japan where you find the highest IQs. If “living in cites” exposes one to cultures and commerce and improves the race, as Sowell says, then we have proof that it doesn’t work for blacks: Detroit, Memphis, Baltimore, St. Louis…

  • One thing that Sowell did not mention was that people adapt to new surroundings. For example, when Japanese Americans came to the US, they were able to farm on the least productive land that was available. They came up with methods such as truck farming and the land produced bountiful harvests and then the whites wanted to take the land away by preventing immigrants from owning land. They got around that by buying land in the names of their citizen children.

    • Anonymous

      Interesting example (I guess).  It is not as if whites need the Japanese in their countries to be productive.  History has proven that.

    • Yeah, we eeeevil Whites are always trying to steal stuff from you creative minorities.

  • I don’t want to kill anyone. I just want the underclass to stay away and leave me and mine alone.

  • Anonymous

    I will never understand why Conservative race-realist/White Nationalist continue to even bother with the likes of Thomas Sowell. Face it folks – he doesn’t get IT, and he never will get IT! At the very least, he will never admit it! He isn’t talking about race, he’s talking AROUND race, just like virtually all self-styled Conservatives do. While he may be closer to the truth than many on the Left, etc., he is still far, far from it.

  • Anonymous

    could people living in isolated mountain valleys realistically be expected to develop their own intellectual potential as fully as people living in cities that were international crossroads of commerce, cultures and ideas from around the world? 
     
    – Thomas Sowell, Real Clear Politics, January 17, 2012  

    Thomas Sowell seems to be overlooking the fact that city life exerts different population pressures than living in isolated mountain valleys. Those who are more intelligent are the ones who survive and reproduce. Consequently city dwellers are likely to have more potential.

    • alex dihes

      alexdihes
      Thomas Sowell seems to be overlooking the fact that city life exerts
      different population pressures than living in isolated mountain valleys.

      ==============
      He doesn’t overlook. He sees what pleases him and pretends there is nothing else. Is he  funny? Oh yes! Is he honest? Oh no! Is he smart? For his pocket – YES!

  • Anonymous

    As Heinrich24 noted, Sowell doesn’t get it or won’t at admit it even to himself.
     
    “…could people living in isolated mountain valleys realistically be expected to develop their own intellectual potential as fully as people living in cities that were international crossroads of commerce, cultures and ideas from around the world?”
     
    Is the city the transformative vehicle or is it the people who created the city that is the agent of advancement and transformation?
     
    If it was the city, urban blacks should flourish in cities. Do they? What happens when the number of blacks increases in cities while the number of whites decreases?  

    It’s not the city, it’s the people who make the city.  

  • alex dihes

    HERE IS A MENTAL EXPERIENCE I OFFER TO MY BLACK AND WHITE OPPONENTS.

    1. IMAGINE YOU ARE ABLE TO CHOOSE THE BEST LAND YOU WANT. YOU MOVE THERE THE BEST OF THE HUMANITY ACHIEVEMENTS SUCH AS PLANTS, MACHINES AND WHATEVER ELSE. PLACE THERE ALL NEGROES, LOCK UP THE GATE FOR, SAY, 20 YEARS.

    2. DO THE OPPOSITE WITH WHITES. SETTLE THEM ALL IN AN ARID LAND WITH THE CLOTHES ON THE BACK, BOOKS, SOME NECESSARY TOOLS – THAT IS IT, AND LOCK THEM UP
    AS WELL.

    AFTER THE 20 YEARS COME BACK, UNLOCK AND DESCRIBE TO YOURSELF WHAT YOU SEE.

    BELIEVE ME. YOU WOULDN’T NEED THEIR ANSWERS. THE EXPRESSION OF THEIR FACES WILL TELL YOU EVERYTHING.

  • Laura White

    How is it possible to uphold this charade any more with the internet? 

    How is it possible that white people can be convinced that blacks, with their obviously different-shaped skulls, have the exact same brains and therefore cognitive attributes as other races? 

    How is this possible? 

    Cordially, 

    -crimesofthetimes.com 

  • PBS is currently running a program about the wonderful, courageous Zulu-Americans who fought against the eeeevil Apartheid in SA. I suppose their actions turned it into a virtual utopia. Well, PBS libtards think so.

  • America First

    A major reason there is little respect for black Americans is because in spite of their highly-touted ill-treatment in the United States, they have never chosen to leave, and go elsewhere, ESPECIALLY back to Africa.  Most African Americans I know who travel outside the U.S. go to Europe (France and Italy seem to two favorites).  The only Americans I know who have visited Africa are white or Asian.  Bottom line, is, like whiny children, they bemoan their fate, but take no measures to improve it by leaving the supposed “Hell” they live in.

    Let me make a corollary comment:  virtually every white person in this country is here because their ancestors left the land where they and their families had lived for  generations.  They didn’t complain that their former homelands owed them anything, didn’t look back, but looked forward, worked hard, and made new people of themselves.  The blacks are apparently incapable of this.  They don’t want to be here, and don’t want to be there.  Pathetic.