Thomas Sowell

Letters from parents often complain of a sense of futility in trying to argue with their own children, who have been fed a steady diet of the politically correct vision of the world, from elementary school to the university.

Some ask for suggestions of particular books that might make a dent in the know-it-all attitude of some young people who have heard only one side of the story in classrooms all their lives.

That is one way of going about trying to de-program young people. There are, for example, some good books showing what is wrong with the "global warming" crusades or showing why male-female differences in income or occupations are not automatically discrimination.

Various authors have written a lot of good books that demolish what is currently believed-- and taught to students-- on a wide range of issues. Some of those books are listed as suggested readings on my website (www.tsowell.com).

Yet trying to undo the propaganda that passes for education at too many schools and colleges, one issue at a time, may not always be the best strategy. There are too many issues on which the politically correct party line is considered to be the only way to look at things.

Given the wide range of issues on which students are indoctrinated, instead of being educated, trying to undo all of that would require a whole shelf full of books-- and somehow getting the students to read them all.

Another approach might be to respond to the dogmatic certainty of some young person, perhaps your own offspring, by asking: "Have you ever read a single book on the other side of that issue?"

Chances are, after years of being "educated," even at some of the highest-priced schools and colleges, they have not.

When the inevitable answer to your question is "No," you can simply point out how illogical it is to be so certain about anything when you have heard only one side of the story-- no matter how often you have heard that one side repeated.

Would it make sense for a jury to reach a verdict after having heard only the prosecution's case, or only the defense attorney's case, but not both?

There is no need to argue the specifics of the particular issue that has come up. You can tell your overconfident young student that you will be happy to discuss that particular issue after he or she has taken the elementary step of reading something by somebody on the other side.


Thomas Sowell

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

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