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 Thomas Sowell Quotes
101 Famous Quotes by Thomas Sowell
6/30/1930 - (Present)
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About Thomas Sowell

Physicists have determined that even the most solid and heavy mass of matter we see is mostly empty space. But at the submicroscopic level, specks of matter scattered through a vast emptiness have such incredible density and weight, and are linked to one another by such powerful forces, that together they produce all the properties of concrete, cast iron and solid rock. In much the same way, specks of knowledge are scattered through a vast emptiness of ignorance, and everything depends upon how solid the individual specks of knowledge are, and on how powerfully linked and coordinated they are with one another.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Considering the enormous range of human knowledge, from intimate personal knowledge of specific individuals to the complexities of organizations and the subtleties of feelings, it is remarkable that one speck in this firmament should be the sole determinant of whether someone is considered knowledgeable or ignorant in general. Yet it is a fact of life that an unlettered person is considered ignorant, however much he may know about nature and man, and a Ph.D. is never considered ignorant, however barren his mind might be outside his narrow specialty and however little he grasps about human feeling or social complexities.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Civilization is an enormous device for economizing knowledge,.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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The stricter standards and independent, often conclusive, evidence in the physical sciences cannot be generalized to intellectual activity as a whole, even though the aura of scientific processes and results is often appropriated by other intellectuals.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Knowledge can be enormously costly, and is often scattered in widely uneven fragments, too small to be individually usable in decision making. The communication and coordination of these scattered fragments of knowledge is one of the basic problems- perhaps the basic problem- of any society.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Social values in general are incrementally variable: neither safety, diversity, rational articulation, nor morality is categorically a "good thing" to have more of, without limits. All are subject to diminishing returns, and ultimately negative returns.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Implicit in the activist conception of government is the assumption that you can take the good things in a complex system for granted, and just improve the things that are not so good. What is lacking in this conception is any sense that a society, an institution, or even a single human being, is an intricate system of fragile inter-relationships, whose complexities are little understood and easily destabilized.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Informal relationships are not mere minor interstitial supplements to the major institutions of society. These informal relationships not only include important decision-making processes, such as the family, but also produce much of the background social capital without which the other major institutions of society could not function nearly as effectively as they do.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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The most basic inherent constraint is that neither time nor wisdom are free goods available in unlimited quantity. This means that in social processes, as in economic processes, it is not only impossible to attain perfection but irrational to seek perfection- or even to seek the "best possible" result in each separate instance.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Nothing as mundane as mere evidence can be allowed to threaten a vision so deeply satisfying.

Religion / beliefs Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Various kinds of ideas can be classified by their relationship to the authentication process. There are ideas systematically prepared for authentication ("theories"), ideas not derived from any systematic process ("visions"), ideas which could not survive any reasonable authentication process ("illusions"), ideas which exempt themselves from any authentication process ("myths"), ideas which have already passed authentication processes ("facts"), as well as ideas known to have failed- or certain to fail- such processes ("falsehoods" - both mistakes and lies).

Religion / beliefs Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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The anointed don't like to talk about painful trade-offs. They like to talk about happy "solutions" that get rid of the whole problem- at least in their imagination.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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...each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Cultures contain many cues and inducements to dissuade the individual from approaching ultimate limits, in much the same way that a special warning strip of land around the edge of a baseball field lets a player know that he is about to run into a concrete wall when he is preoccupied with catching the ball. The wider that strip of land and the more sensitive the player is to the changing composition of the ground under his feet as he pursues the ball, the more effective the warning. Romanticizing or lionizing as "individualistic" those people who disregard social cues and inducements increases the danger of head-on collisions with inherent social limits. Decrying various forms of social disapproval is in effect narrowing the warning strip.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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The demands of unbounded individualism need to be weighed in the light of inherent social constraints which can only change their form but cannot be eliminated without eliminating civilization.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Where intellectuals have played a role in history, it has not been so much by whispering words of advice into the ears of political overlords as by contributing to the vast and powerful currents of conceptions and misconceptions that sweep human action along.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Much of what sophisticates loftily refer to as the "complexity" of the real world is in fact the inconsistency in their own minds.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Facts do not "speak for themselves." They speak for or against competing theories. Facts divorced from theories or visions are mere isolated curiosities.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Fundamentalist religion is the most pervasive vision of central planning, though many fundamentalists may oppose human central planning as a usurpation or "playing God." This is consistent with the fundamentalist vision of an unconstrained God and a highly constrained man.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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It's amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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People who have time on their hands will inevitably waste the time of people who have work to do.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Organizational progress parallels that in science and technology, permitting ultimate simplicity through intermediate complexity.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Morality, like other inputs into the social process, follows the law of diminishing returns- meaning ultimately, negative returns. People can be too moral.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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Unbounded morality ultimately becomes counterproductive even in terms of the same moral principles being sought. The law of diminishing returns applies to morality.

Society Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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