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Nicole Hannah-Jones gives her opinion on Thomas Sowell’s expertise and hears some opinions in return

The ratio Nikole Hannah-Jones got for this tweet is a sight to behold:

I’ve tagged it “self-ownership” because it’s a self-own. Sue me.

For those that don’t know, Nikole Hannah-Jones (who gets to appropriate the historic name of Ida B. Wells, a pioneer of the civil rights movement, as her Twitter handle) is the developer of the New York Times’s 1619 Project, though presumably not the author of all the edits the NYT had to stealthily make to it later. She is also someone who has stated that “All journalism is activism”. Thomas Sowell is the author of…

1971. Economics: Analysis and Issues. Scott Foresman & Co.
1972. Black Education: Myths and Tragedies. David McKay Co. . ISBN 0-679-30015-5 .
1972. Say’s Law: An Historical Analysis. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-04166-7.
1974. Classical Economics Reconsidered. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-00358-0.
1975. Race and Economics. David McKay Co. ISBN 978-0-679-30262-9.
1980. Knowledge and Decisions. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-03736-0.
1981. Ethnic America: A History . Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-02074-7 .
Chapter 1, “The American Mosaic .”
1981. Markets and Minorities. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-04399-2 .
1981. Pink and Brown People: and Other Controversial Essays . Hoover Press . ISBN 0-8179-7532-2.
1983. The Economics and Politics of Race. William Morrow. ISBN 0-688-01891-2.
1984. Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? William Morrow. ISBN 0-688-03113-7.
1985. Marxism: Philosophy and Economics. Quill. ISBN 0-688-06426-4.
1986. Education: Assumptions Versus History. Hoover Press. ISBN 0-8179-8112-8.
1987. A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles . William Morrow. ISBN 0-688-06912-6 .
1987. Compassion Versus Guilt and Other Essays. William Morrow. ISBN 0-688-07114-7.
1990. Preferential Policies: An International Perspective. ISBN 0-688-08599-7
1993. Inside American Education. New York: The Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-5408-2.
1993. Is Reality Optional?: and Other Essays. Hoover. ISBN 978-0-8179-9262-0.
1995. Race and Culture: A World View. ISBN 0-465-06796-4.
1995. The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation As a Basis for Social Policy. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-08995-X.
1996. Migrations and Cultures: A World View. ISBN 0-465-04589-8. OCLC 41748039.
1998. Conquests and Cultures: An International History. ISBN 0-465-01400-3.
1998. Late-Talking Children. ISBN 0-465-03835-2.
1999. The Quest for Cosmic Justice . ISBN 0-684-86463-0.
2000. A Personal Odyssey. ISBN 0-684-86465-7.
2000. Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy (1st ed.) . Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-08145-2.
2002. Controversial Essays. Hoover. ISBN 0-8179-2992-4.
2002. The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late. ISBN 0-465-08141-X.
2003. Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One. ISBN 0-465-08143-6.
2004. Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press . ISBN 978-0-300-10775-3 .
2004. Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy (revised and expanded ed.). New York: Basic Books.
2005. Black Rednecks and White Liberals. San Francisco: Encounter Books. ISBN 978-1-59403-086-4.
2006. Ever Wonder Why?: and Other Controversial Essays . Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press. ISBN 978-0-8179-4752-1. OCLC 253604328. ASIN 0817947523 .
2006. On Classical Economics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-12606-8.[118]
2007. A Man of Letters. San Francisco, CA: Encounter Books. ISBN 978-1-59403-196-0.
2007. Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (3rd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books. ISBN 978-0-465-00260-3. OCLC 76897806.
2008. Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One (2nd ed.). Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-00345-7 . OCLC 260206351 .
2008. Economic Facts and Fallacies . Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-00349-5. OCLC 1033591370. ASIN 0465003494.
2009. The Housing Boom and Bust. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-01880-2.
Chapter 5, “The Past and the Future.”
2010. Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (4th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books. ISBN 978-0-465-02252-6.
2010. Dismantling America: and Other Controversial Essays. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-02251-9 . OCLC 688505777 .
2010. Intellectuals and Society . Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-01948-9 . Lay summary .
2011. The Thomas Sowell Reader. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-02250-2.
2011. Economic Facts and Fallacies, 2nd edition. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0465022038
2013. Intellectuals and Race. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-05872-3.
2014. Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (5th ed.). New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-06073-3.
2015. Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective.[119]
2016. Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective (2nd ed.). ISBN 978-0-465-09676-3.
2018. Discrimination and Disparities. ISBN 978-1-541-64560-8.
2019. Discrimination and Disparities (revised, enlarged ed.) ISBN 978-1-541-64563-9.
2020. Charter Schools and Their Enemies. ISBN 978-1-541-67513-1.

30 comments to Nicole Hannah-Jones gives her opinion on Thomas Sowell’s expertise and hears some opinions in return

  • Paul Marks

    To do economic history well one must understand both economics and history – “Economic History” is, therefore, not a “soft option” subject (although students sometimes treat it as if it was) – as it requires understanding of two disciplines (economics and history) – not one.

    Hannah-Jones’s published writings show (very clearly show) that the lady does not understand economics – therefore the lady can not produce good economic history. The lady, and her supporters, may scream “Racist! Racist! Racist!” at this point – but it remains the truth that, because of her lack of understanding of economics, her economic history is without value.

    “But that means that no Collectivist can produce good economic history” – correct, they can not. They do not understand economics, and because of that lack of understanding they can not (can not – no matter how hard they try) produce economic history that is of value.

  • Paul Marks

    Was the economic success of the United States due to slavery? No it was not.

    Was the economic success of United Kingdom, for example the industrial revolution, due to slavery? No it was not.

    Was the economic success of the United States or the United Kingdom due to “exploitation” and “oppression” in general? No it was not.

    Marxist, or general leftist, history is mistaken because it is based on a false view of economics.

    This is the point that Thomas Sowell is making in his historical works – and he is correct.

  • KJP

    Further to Paul Marks: If economic success was due to slavery how was it that the Northern states were richer and more advanced than the Southern ones?

  • Paul Marks

    KJP – the reply of the left will be “because of cheap, slave grown, cotton” which totally misses your point that the north was more (more – not equally) advanced than the south.

    By the way – some of the defenders of slavery used the “northern factory workers are worse off than the slaves” lie, and they trotted out the Labour Theory of Value fallacy as well.

  • Kirk

    The institution of slavery has nearly as many inimical effects on the slaver as it has upon the enslaved.

    Not least of which is all the effort it takes to maintain control over the slaves, and the fact that you cannot allow any form of innovation, which doesn’t really pay off anyway, under slavery.

    See Rome and a lot of other slave-based economies for why that kind of thing doesn’t work out very well, in the long run. Russia is what it is mostly because of the long centuries of serfdom, as opposed to the free labor classes that evolved in Western Europe. That’s one of the key reasons Russia has historically been what they are, which is an outcome of slavery on both ends of the whip.

  • Chester Draws

    If a well educated black man is not allowed to have a view on slavery, who is?

    The likes of Ms Jones say they want a “conversation” about racial issues, but disallow any voices that are not from left-leaning black people. That’s not much of a conversation.

    If Sowell was liberal, Jones would not be asking why he was considered an expert.

    Educated black conservatives are the left’s worst enemy.

  • bobby b

    Really, that lady is such a doofus. No surprises anymore. She just rode the right wave.

  • Kirk

    What’s so darkly humorous about the whole thing is that she doesn’t even recognize the contradictions in her own narrative: Namely, that if slavery were so economically “beneficial”, then why didn’t the South have the economic advantages it needed to successfully prosecute the Civil War and win?

    Every time I hear the term “intellectual”, I have to laugh, because most of them are merely overeducated and overcredentialed dolts whose capacity for actual thought of any sort has been eclipsed by the propaganda they were indoctrinated with. You can’t even parody these people: “Slavery built the United States” contrasted with the actual reality, which is that the slave states were economically and technologically backwards to the point where they had to import almost everything of consequence. So… If slavery “built the US”, then explain how it was that the slave-holding states were so backwards?

    There should be cognitive dissonance with all these things, but the problem is that there ain’t a lot of cogitatin’ going on with these people. They’re credentialed giants, and intellect-deprived dwarves at the same time.

    I look at these people and their creations, and I can only marvel at what academia has reduced itself to, and how little real value an education has, these days. You’re better off with a library card and some intellectual curiosity than you are going after a degree.

    Hell, I am no genius, but I’d read rather more books than the vast majority of my college-educated peers had by the time I was in my mid-twenties. And, across a broader spectrum of knowledge. I lost track of the number of people with “educations” that I ran into over the years who made the proud boast that they’d never read a book past college, and the ones they read then were only what the curriculum required. I rather suspect that this Hannah-Jones character would say something similar. She obviously did not bother even looking outside that which her cant held as “right and proper”, or she’d have encountered Sowell and his works. I’m more than vaguely familiar with the various people I disagree with mainly because I wanted to be able to understand and refute their arguments. What this woman is doing is akin to arguing against Socialism and Marxism without ever having read Marx or any of the other leading lights of his ilk…

  • FrankS

    Sowell is an inspiring, penetrating, analytical thinker way above we ordinary mortals. An international treasure if ever there was one. Hannah-Jones is a low IQ, low information buffoon.

  • JJM

    Other than being Black, what exactly is Sowell’s expertise in slavery or history?

    Nowhere is the old leftie internal contradictions line better illustrated than in Applied Wokery.

    If Sowell were to her liking of course, “being Black” would be entirely sufficient unto itself.

  • Chester Draws

    Not just inside the US though Kirk. If slavery were the way to wealth, then Brazil would have been an economic powerhouse in 1900. It took more slaves, and for longer.

    The usual contra-arguments mostly don’t fly too. Brazil is the size of the US, approximately, is full of natural resources and has similar links back to Europe.

  • Vegas

    Russian empire was a leader of global steel industry by employing serfs in 19th century. It’s not obvious if slavery was economically not viable.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Brazil was intimidated by Britain into giving up its’ slaves, and that is why Brazil is now poor- blame British Imperialism!

  • Alan Peakall

    Kirk: The institution of slavery has nearly as many inimical effects on the slaver as it has upon the enslaved.

    Indeed, since Sowell, the author of A Conflict of Visions, is the the subject of discussion I would suggest that the success of the 19th Century US Republican Party was the result of its synthesis of the Unconstrained Vision and the Constrained Vision (more snappily re-labelled, by Steve Pinker, the Utopian Vision and the Tragic Vision) and arguing both that no man is so degraded as to be a natural slave and no man so exalted as to be a natural master.

    There lies a possible answer to the question of how it was that an apparent party of the right (a party of former anti-slavery Whigs) delivered the abolitionist project, which question conventional discussion largely buries behind rhetoric about the Southern Strategy of the 20th Century Republican Party.

  • Alan Peakall

    a party of former anti-slavery Whigs -> a party largely composed of former anti-slavery Whigs

    Where did the edit button go?

  • Paul Marks (@paulvmarks)

    No Vegas – the pre 1861 Russian steel industry was not the leader in the world. Russia did have the 4th highest industrial output in the world by 1913 (it is no where near that ranking now) – but that was 50 years after serfdom was abolished.

    Nicholas – I know you are pulling our legs, but someone might take the comment literally, No the reason for the poverty of Brazil is not because of getting rid of slavery at the end of the 1880s.

    Neither slavery nor serfdom is good for the economy. It may be good for some specific interests – but not overall.

    Indeed both slavery and serfdom are very bad for the economy – over all.

    Alexander II did not use “just” moral arguments for getting rid of serfdom – he also pointed at the backwardness of Russia that led to defeat in the Crimean War.

  • Edit button is still there for 5 mins after posting a comment. That said, there was an update at about the time you posted, so possible it was unavailable at just the wrong moment for you to use it.

  • Alan Peakall

    Thanks Perry. I’ll trust it was an update glitch and not my suffering a senior moment.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Here is a good debunking of Nikole Hannah-Jones over at Reason: https://reason.com/2020/09/21/1619-project-author-nikole-hannah-jones-america-founding-1776/

    As far as I am concerned, she is a fraud, like Nancy MacLean, was in her disgraceful libel on the late James Buchanan (one of the founders of “public choice economics”). https://reason.com/2017/07/20/what-nancy-maclean-gets-wrong-about-jame/

    Fortunately, there appears to be plenty of pushback against NHJ and the others, and the moral to draw about these folk is to unpack their claims, debunk them carefully, politely and in devastating detail. This will not work with those already seduced by their crap, but it does have an impact on the undecided.

  • I’ve tagged it “self-ownership” because it’s a self-own. Sue me.

    😀 😛 😀

  • Kirk

    The funniest bit about that, Perry? She will never, ever recognize that she’s done that. Let alone acknowledge it.

  • Paul Marks

    Johnathan Pearce – yes they are frauds.

    Kirk – it should be funny, but the left control most schools, universities, and the media (even the “capitalist corporations”), so it is a real problem.

  • Kirk

    @Paul Marks,

    The thing about that control? Gaining it becomes meaningless after you’ve driven said institution into the ground. What good does it do you to capture the media and bend it to your will when doing that means that you destroy any credibility that that media has with the general public? What good does it do to take over the universities when your takeover results in the credentials from those institutions being devalued to the point of uselessness?

    See, here’s the essential point the left and all the other ideologues miss: The reality is the reality. You can try to impose your ideas on the world, but if those ideas don’t actually work? What, then, will the world do to them?

    We’re in that pause state while we wait for reality to ensue, discrediting and destroying all that they’ve taken over. The left has fundamentally misunderstood things, in that they believe the word makes the world. Rather, the fact is that the world makes the word, and no amount of insistence or faith in your false belief system will overcome that fact. You can believe all you want that you’re levitating; so long as you remain in your safe little yoga studio, you can even continue to convince yourself and others that that is what you’re doing. Take that bullshit out over the Grand Canyon, however? You’re going to find out the hard way that gravity will still ensue.

    Ideology is a false construct. Leftists are not pragmatists; they are true belief types who think that their word, their will shapes reality. They do not realize that reality is its own thing, and that nothing they can say or believe will change said reality.

    They’re going to find out that all their ideals and belief aren’t going to change a damn thing, and that the sun will still rise in the east every morning regardless of how hard they want it to do something else.

    Same thing happened to Hitler. The problem is that the flash-to-bang time of reality ensuing after you project your beliefs into the real world isn’t nearly instantaneous. There’s a lag, as people respond to what you do; there’s another lag as consequence works its vicious way through it all. You can fool yourself that your ideas work for a significant amount of time, but then the truth will work its way through the implications, and you’re going to wake up one morning with the Soviets at the gates of Berlin while the Western allies are making their way through your industrial heartland.

    Man proposes; God disposes. We’re in that middle ground, right now, betwixt proposition and disposition.

    I don’t think the leftoids of the world are going to like the actual results of the things they’ve so blithely proposed to the universe at large. Consequence is a bitch.

  • bobby b

    “What good does it do you to capture the media and bend it to your will when doing that means that you destroy any credibility that that media has with the general public?”

    Depends on whether your goal is building knowledge, or building your team. If you can build your team big enough – say, a dependable 51% – then the knowledge no longer matters. You will reach the point of control where you no longer have to worry about a backlash.

    I can blithely call NHJ a doofus, but at the same time, in her fraud she’s strengthened her political team. Any time she can nudge her target audience into more hatred of historic American values – any time she can help convince more people that they are truly victims of our society – she adds strength to today’s Left.

    Not admirable. Certainly effective.

    (Note that I’m referring to her “body of work”, not really her comment about Sowell.)

  • Kirk

    @bobby b,

    You miss the point. The one that I’m actually making is that the mere capture alone of this institutional heights is meaningless, in the long run, because they are running them into the ground and turning them into effectively meaningless vestiges of their former selves.

    Look at Disney. OK, they’ve got Disney; what do they do with it? They make short-term use of it to broadcast their unworkable and damaging social ideas, and in the doing, turn Disney into a money-losing corporation that lacks any real power.

    This is the same mentality that these idiots project onto the NRA; they honestly think that the NRA is this manipulative organization that runs all these things, and that the whole pro-firearms thing is orchestrated by them. The actual truth of the matter is that the NRA exists because it serves as a projection of actual public attitudes towards guns; bankrupt it, destroy it? Then, something else will spring up in its place because the thing that makes the NRA what it is would be the actual people out there who agree with it. Hell, I venture to predict that they’d do rather more harm to gun control’s cause by getting rid of the NRA, because the rest of the organizations out there that would likely take its place are far more radical and a lot less likely to compromise.

    That’s the mistake these assholes all make; they think that if they can play king of the hill, and get on top of all these organizations, they’ll control it all. That’s how their minds work; they don’t leave any room in their conception of the universe such that the average person in the US might have actual agency, and will not simply parrot the words they want to put in everyone’s mouth. They’re fooled by how easy it is to indoctrinate most college students, who’re (I am afraid this is a truth…) mostly selected to go to college because they’re credulous fools that are willing to sign on for a few hundred thousand dollars in debt to get a worthless piece of paper.

    It does no good to capture an institution if you’re going to immediately destroy its credibility inside a generation. That’s what they’ve done; that’s what they’re doing, and the end effect is going to be that nobody out there will be listening to or paying attention to their captured institution.

    Look at the churches that were taken over by the activists; what’s their membership, these days? Does anyone still worship there, or are they somewhere else or not going to church at all, seeking guidance on their own time, in their own Bible? You can stand on that pulpit and expound endlessly on your chosen topic, but if the church is empty, what then have you gained?

    That’s the essential flaw in the whole Frankfurt program, the one they didn’t account for. Gramsci can have his long march through the institutions, but what the hell will they have gained when nobody gives those institutions a lick of attention because they’re taken over and now putting out all these dysfunctional ideological lockstep concepts that observably don’t work? You can preach all you like about the empathy you should have for the “unhomed”, but when push comes to shove, and you get tired of cleaning human feces off your sidewalk, and having to worry about your kids getting needle sticks on the playground? All that touchy-feely crap is going to go out the window, and not a single person is going to be listening to the discredited ideas and institutions that they see as causing the problem.

    Not sure where that goes, but I can about guarantee it won’t be where the “experts” think it will.

  • bobby b

    “You miss the point”

    Lot of that going around. 😉 You say that this all destroys the press’s credibility. I’ll agree – eventually it will. In the meantime, we have a Dem prez, a Dem Senate, we barely hold the House, and I’d not be confident arguing that we get any of those back next time. Some people obviously still look to the media for enlightenment.

    NHJ is still driving votes with her fraud.

  • Kirk

    I dunno… Where I’m sitting, more and more people are losing their faith in the system.

    I’d also point out that the “Dem” thing is essentially meaningless; the people you’re thinking of as “we” are manifestly and demonstrably part of the problem. When was the last time anyone of either party did what they said they’d do, once elected? When was the last one elected that did much of anything in “our” interest?

    The sad reality is that its all a con game, and one that the majority are finally beginning to pick up on. Where that ends, I don’t know. The reality is that we’re living in an era where all the institutions and authorities are actively discrediting themselves, to the point that nothing that any of them say can or will be believed by the masses. I do not know what happens when that finally culminates in a Ceaucescu at Timisoara moment, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to get there either in my lifetime, or shortly thereafter.

    What can’t go on, won’t.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – it is possible that the lies become so extreme that even control of the education system, the corporations and the media, can not make most people believe them.

    Then election fraud steps in – to turn a minority of voters into a majority of votes (via such things as “mail-in ballots”).

    And if people contest that?

    Then it becomes clear that inside the velvet glove there is an iron fist. There are still people from January 6th in prison (and being abused) as I type these words.

    Remember when people, privately, said “it is just a matter of getting Trump out” – well that did not prove to be the case, as they just carried on rigging elections.

    And why should they not rig elections? When even the “free market” Wall Street Journal writes editorials saying (for example) that the Gubernatorial election in Arizona was straight.

    People had the election stolen in front of their eyes, they watched it happen – and then they had insult added to injury.


    Simple – because the “free market” publications are often really Corporate supporting fiat money for the corporations, admitting that the system (both the political and the economic system) is systematically bent, would end their comfortable lives.

    “Wall Street is a corrupt Credit Bubble farce” is not likely to be written in a newspaper that is named after Wall Street.

    And “the elections and the courts are systematically corrupt” then raises the obvious question “well what are you going to do about that?”

    That is a very uncomfortable question that could well mean people risking their lives.

    Far better to hope that 2024 is such a landslide that that lots of fake mail-in ballots in some (some – not all) States does-not-matter.

    And that actually might work – I do not deny it MIGHT work.

    And it is a lot more comfortable than denouncing the system as corrupt and losing all the corporate advertising.

    The overall cultural decline – as society devolves back into the slime?

    Hard to see much being done about that – but let us hope that economic collapse brings a fundamental cultrual rethink, against “modernism” (for want of a better word).

  • Gene

    I do not know what happens when that finally culminates in a Ceaucescu at Timisoara moment, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to get there either in my lifetime, or shortly thereafter.

    To alter a phrase common in the world of investment, my fear is that “Reality can stay suspended longer than the ‘majority’ can maintain its ability to recreate a sane world.”

  • Kirk

    Gene said:

    To alter a phrase common in the world of investment, my fear is that “Reality can stay suspended longer than the ‘majority’ can maintain its ability to recreate a sane world.”

    Which still implies that they’ve rendered that which they’ve taken utterly meaningless.

    You can deny objective truth all you like, but the day will come when objective truth is breaking your door down with malicious intent. What comes after is either a recognition of reality, or your death.

    I suspect that most of these people will happily go to their graves, insisting that black is white, that up is down, and that the people saying otherwise are racists. They’re still going to their graves. The recreation of a sane world is by no means a given, but the sad fact is that futile capture of the heights will do the woke no long-term good; the sun will still continue to rise in the east, and people who recognize this fact will remain to build something else after the fantasists are dead and buried with their various ideologies.

    As for the rest of us, the collateral damage? Yeah; we’re not going to have a lot of fun during the endgame. Buy ammunition and canned goods, is all I can advise.