# Discrimination and Disparities, by Thomas Sowell

#### Ackbach

##### Indicium Physicus
Staff member
I just finished reading Discrimination and Disparities, by Thomas Sowell. Whatta book! I would highly recommend it. The main point of the book is to show that disparities do NOT imply discrimination (oppression). To show this, Sowell runs through a huge number of examples, both in nature and in human relations, where disparities have existed and discrimination is demonstrably absent.

To be sure, disparities are sometimes caused by discrimination, and Sowell mentions that: disparities do not imply a LACK of discrimination, either. However, in today's culture, that is not the main fallacy being committed. I see the disparities-implying-discrimination fallacy ALL the time. For example, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) questioning the Hon. Amy Coney Barrett: essentially his entire set of questions committed this fallacy.

What does cause disparities? Sowell's answer: causes can be many and varied, and are not always easy to point out. Sometimes you can point to a cause, sometimes not. But one thing you CANNOT do is simply infer discrimination or oppression as the cause of disparities.

So the next time someone tries this line on you: "People group A and people group B have such a gigantic difference in their outcomes; we have to change how we're handling these people groups in order to reduce these differences.", you need to suspect the implied link.

#### Jameson

I see this as both very true and also a way to turn a nuanced, complex set of topics into a black and white framing. Oppression is redefined constantly by the person using it and can't even be clearly defined. The murky nature of human experience is on both political sides, so if under some definition of oppression it exists at $T_0$ and doesn't at $T_n$, at what point does the oppression stop?