Watch Out Theorists Ahead

Abstract theory is much beloved by the Left. Yet that theorizing often fails for two reasons. The first is that it is based on prior assumptions that reflect the world as the theorist would like it to be rather than as it actually is. The second is that the theorists of the Left – which likes to refer to itself as the “fact-based community” – are notably reluctant to subject their theories to the empirical testing that is the hallmark of science or take note of the adverse consequences of acting upon the theories.

One prominent example of such current theorizing is the assumption that any statistical differences between blacks and whites that might reflect negatively on the former must be the consequence of systemic racism. Thus if blacks constitute a disproportionate percentage of the prison population, the reason must be that the criminal justice system is permeated with racism. And if blacks are disproportionately the subjects of school punishments, again the explanation must be racism and inherent bias against black students (even where the teachers and administrators meting out the punishment are black).

A moment’s reflection – a bit of common sense, if you will – would reveal how little basis there is for the assumption that an inequity in outcomes can only be explained by racism. Few propositions are so well supported by social science data as the negative consequences for males raised by single mothers — poor performance in school, greater likelihood of addiction, and higher rates of criminal behavior.