Thomas Sowell
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What is more frightening than any particular policy or ideology is the widespread habit of disregarding facts. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey put it this way: "Demagoguery beats data."

 People who urge us to rely on the United Nations, instead of acting "unilaterally," or who urge us to follow other countries in creating a government-run medical care system, often show not the slightest interest in getting facts about the actual track record of either the UN or government-run medical systems.

 Those who believe in affirmative action likewise usually see no reason to find out what actually happens under such policies, as distinguished from what they wish, hope, or imagine happens.

 The crusade for "a living wage" that will enable a worker to support a family proceeds without the slightest interest in finding out whether most people who are making low wages actually have any family to support -- much less seeking out the facts about what actually happens after the government sets wages.

 People who have made up their minds and don't want to be confused by the facts are a danger to the whole society. Since the votes of such people count just as much as the votes of people who know what they are talking about, politicians have every incentive to pass laws and create policies that pander to ignorant notions, if those notions are widespread.

 Even institutions that are set up to pass on facts -- the media, schools, academia -- too often treat facts as expendable and use their strategic positions to filter out facts which go against their own preconceptions.

 Crimes against homosexuals, blacks, or the homeless are big news to be dramatized, repeated, and denounced. Crimes committed by homosexuals, blacks, or the homeless are not -- and are often passed over in silence by much of the media. The net result is that the public gets filtered facts, which can create an impression the direct opposite of the truth.

 We learn from the media's filtered facts that there are countries with stronger gun-control laws than ours which have lower murder rates. We seldom, if ever, learn from the media about countries which have stronger gun-control laws than ours and whose murder rates are two or three times higher than ours.

 The media also filter out facts about countries where gun ownership is far more widespread than in the United States -- and who nevertheless have lower murder rates.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate