The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Inactive » amte

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: Ideology over facts
Replies: 1   Last Post: Aug 14, 2000 10:30 PM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
Wayne Bishop

Posts: 5,465
Registered: 12/6/04
Ideology over facts
Posted: Aug 14, 2000 7:42 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

>When public education has matured enough to adopt that perspective
>in regard to race-based policies, we'll all - including the victims of these
>policies - be better off. Thomas Sowell's syndicated article in my local
>paper today makes that point rather nicely.

Some one was kind enough to pass along the article to which I referred.


When facts don't fit vision, ignore them

By Thomas Sowell
August 14, 2000

The modern age has been called "the age of reason," as distinguished from
past ages of faith. However, ideological faith has now begun displacing
both reason and facts.

For example, hysteria about "global warming" continues unabated, despite
satellite data that show the Earth to be a fraction of a degree cooler
today than in 1979. These data come from the satellites of the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Those who prefer to believe in global warming also prefer to use data from
different sources, including readings taken in or near cities that are
generating their own heat. But that is very different from NASA satellite
readings of the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere, which is not
warming. Those who are truly determined to promote the idea of global
warming resort to computer models, which can produce virtually any outcome,
depending on what assumptions are fed into the computer.

Misinterpretations of facts are just one problem. More brazenly, many
denounce the very collection or publication of facts that go against their
ideological faith.

Radical feminists like Gloria Steinem have denounced the collection of
scientific data on biological differences between men and women. The
feminist dogma is that "society" is responsible for creating artificial
differences between males and females. Yet scientific study after
scientific study - many done by women, incidentally - show differences
between the sexes beginning in the womb, before they have ever seen

Half a century ago, there was a survey of studies of Black children with
high IQs that listed 16 such studies of youngsters with IQs above 120, 130
or 140. Today, it is doubtful whether a single study of this sort is being
done anywhere in the United States. In some places, it is forbidden by law
or by politics to even test Black children for IQs.

Back when IQ tests were widely given, Blacks usually scored about 15 points
below the national average. Black "leaders" then demanded - and received -
a ban on IQ tests for Blacks, lest anyone think this difference was
genetic. Of course, this ban stopped no one from thinking that. All it did
was suppress facts, including facts that could argue against the genetic

First, there have been various Caucasian groups in the United States with
IQs 15 points below the national average, as well as other groups around
the world with similar test scores. Whole nations' IQs have risen by that
much, without any genetic change. Moreover, high-IQ Blacks include several
times as many females as males. That goes against both the genetic and the
environmental theories of mental test differences.

But we are forbidden to explore such facts. At a time when Black scores are
going up on various tests, we are forbidden to find out if they are also
going up on IQ tests. Since scores on different kinds of tests tend to be
correlated, chances are that Black IQ test scores would also be going up -
if we were allowed to find out. But Black "leaders" and White liberals
won't let us.

It is not just particular facts that are denounced or suppressed.
Increasingly, bold intellectuals are denigrating the very idea of facts.
It's all how you look at it, according to the more airy and self-indulgent
of the intelligentsia.

Was Einstein's theory just a matter of how you looked at it? Even at
Hiroshima or Nagasaki?

The idea that there is no such thing as truth has gotten very fashionable
in some quarters. It is now called "my truth" or "your truth" or somebody
else's truth. But truth loses its meaning if it becomes private property.
The whole point of truth is that it enables one person to rely on what
someone else says.

Behind all this evasion of reality is the simple fact that some people have
constructed a vision of the world in their mind that differs greatly from
the real world. And they cannot bring themselves to give up that vision.
Nor will they allow others to shatter their vision with facts.

The real question is: Why do we take them seriously? Are we so easily
impressed or intimidated by their airs of superiority?

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His Web site is

Copyright 2000, The Arizona Republic. All rights reserved

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.