Letter: Sowell deals in facts, not prejudices

Steve McMurray’s recent letter (Jan. 24) to The Advocate demonstrates that Thomas Sowell gets under the skin of liberals in much the same way Paul Krugman irritates conservatives. But aside from throwing red meat to his fellow partisans, what value is McMurray’s criticism?

McMurray displays not only a cultivated aversion to facts, but disdain for them. Of Sowell he claims, “Even if his data are factual ... it doesn’t prove anything.”

Without facts, science is reduced to mere speculation. Facts can be verified; prejudices cannot, which is why science is an evolutionary enterprise that values facts over unsupported opinion.

McMurray nevertheless rejects facts as a legitimate basis for persuasive argument.

“It’s one thing to be partisan;” he says, “it’s another thing to be disconnected from reality.” But since facts have no place in his concept of reality, I wonder just what his “reality” consists of?

It is inadvisable to attribute motives to people unless you’re a psychologist. Presumably McMurray has no training in psychology, yet he does not hesitate to attribute motives to Sowell. But his attribution is specious. Why would Sowell strive to “fit in” with a political philosophy that is embraced by a tiny percentage of his race?

One could as easily argue that there are many more black people desperate to “fit in” with the far left.

For years, Sowell has been widely reviled as an “Uncle Tom” by his fellow African Americans, yet despite persistent and obviously hurtful scorn, he has the courage to speak his mind in public forums of all kinds, including the press. I find that courage admirable.

Thomas Sowell is a renowned scholar and author (12 books and numerous refereed journal articles).

He was trained in economics at the universities of Harvard, Columbia and Chicago. (Clearly, the first two institutions are not bastions of conservative thought).

He has experience as an economic analyst in industry and government, and has been affiliated with Stanford University for more than three decades.

His political commentary may irritate some people, but he is not a hack. He uncompromisingly bases his arguments on logic and facts, including historical experience. Of course, some people are not persuaded by facts unless they coincide with their prejudices.

Robert Hebert

economist

Baton Rouge