Thomas Sowell on a question many answer with confidence but may have never examined:
Virtually no one has seriously denied that discrimination and bias have resulted in various inequalities.
It is the converse proposition—that discrimination or bias can be inferred from statistical inequalities—which is the reigning non sequitur of our times, both intellectually and politically.
To prove statistically that the observed patterns of representation or reward are not due to random chance is considered to be virtual proof that they are due to discrimination—not to performance differences.
The implicit assumption is that a more or less even or random representation or reward for performance could be expected, in the absence of institutional or societal policies and practices which disadvantage one group compared to others.
Yet there has never been an even or random world, even in matters not controlled by the biases of others. Not only performance differences but also differences in luck and in many other factors wholly disrupt the simple picture of an even, regular, or balanced world. . . .
What is wholly unsubstantiated is the prevailing assumption that the world would be random or even, in the absence of discrimination or bias by individuals, institutions, or “society.”
—Thomas Sowell, The Quest for Cosmic Justice (New York: Touchstone, 1999), 62-63.