Published on September 21, 2017 by Steve West

Basic Books, 2013 | 184 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

By Steve West


About the Author

Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow for Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Dr. Sowell taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, and other academic institutions, as well as authored numerous publications.



Intellectuals and Race explores the shift in progressive liberal views concerning the reasons for the disparities between blacks and whites in America. Sowell argues that the current views of the intelligentsia are based on a narrative of discrimination that is not supported by empirical data. He examines the failure of the left to address these issues through reason and facts, and articulates how the left is continuing to harm the groups they are ostensibly helping, as well as perpetuating social tensions.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Questions About Race
Chapter 2 Disparities and Their Causes
Chapter 3 Changing Racial Beliefs
Chapter 4 Internal Responses to Disparities
Chapter 5 Race and Intelligence
Chapter 6 Liberalism and Multiculturalism
Chapter 7 Race and Cosmic Justice
Chapter 8 The Past and the Future



Chapter 1: Questions About Race

Ignoring issues of race is not a luxury that we can afford. There are emotional and intellectual challenges in any discussion of race. It is actually quite difficult to define race, and even harder to apply racial criteria coherently and consistently. Intellectuals (i.e. professionals who work with ideas and concepts) have been extremely influential in shaping societal views about race. Much of the conventional wisdom regarding race relations in America does not apply in other cultural contexts, and there needs to be more scrutiny and analysis of our ideas about race. We need to be able to discuss issues of race with facts and honesty, but often the discussions are spun to avoid evidence that undermines the claim that blacks face discrimination by white Americans. Survey data will include statistics that indicates preferential treatment for whites over blacks, but ignores the same data that shows preferential treatment for Asian-Americans over whites—a result that undermines the explanation that such differences are attributable to racism alone. Disparities in outcome may in fact be explained by disparities in the groups’ behavior, but many refuse to consider this possibility.


Chapter 2: Disparities and Their Causes

In a wide variety of societies around the world, there are numerous disparities between races, and the data must be considered dispassionately in all of its complexity. At times minorities suffer, while at other times the majority does. Such disparities are seen around the world and all throughout history. Numerous examples can be cited of minority groups that dominate professions, industries, and politics in countries around the world. Immigrants often end up taking over swaths of the work force and industry in both developed and developing countries, a phenomenon that cannot be attributed merely to genetics. Different races evolved different social orders due in large part to environmental realities of flora and fauna—where there are no horses, society will not develop around horses, regardless of anyone’s genetics. Geographical factors can also isolate populations, and isolated populations tend to lag behind those who are not. The development of culture in Europe shows a profound difference between East and West. The industrial revolution could not originate in places without the necessary natural resources of iron ore and coal, plus the opportunity to transport resources. It should be beyond controversy that. . .

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Intellectuals and Race

Basic Books, 2013 | 184 pages

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