In the course of a long and heated campaign in politics and in the media during the early twenty-first century, claiming that there was rampant discrimination against black home mortgage loan applicants, data from various sources were cited repeatedly, showing that black applicants for the most desirable kind of mortgage were turned down substantially more often than white applicants for those same mortgages.
In the year 2000, for example, data from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights showed that 44.6 percent of black applicants were turned down for those mortgages, while only 22.3 percent of white applicants were turned down.1 These and similar statistics from other sources set off widespread denunciations of mortgage lenders, and demands that the government “do something” to stop rampant racial discrimination in mortgage lending institutions.
The very same report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which showed that blacks were turned down for conventional mortgages at twice the rate for whites, contained other statistics showing that whites were turned down for those same mortgages at a rate nearly twice that for “Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians.”
While the rejection rate for white applicants was 22.3 percent, the rejection rate for Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians was 12.4 percent.2 But such data seldom, if ever, saw the light of day in most newspapers or on most television news programs, for which the black-white difference was enough to convince journalists that racial bias was the reason.
That conclusion fit existing preconceptions, apparently eliminating a need to check whether it also fit the facts. This one crucial omission enabled the prevailing preconception to dominate discussions in politics, in the media and in much of academia.
One of the very few media outlets to even consider alternative explanations for the black-white statistical differences was the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which showed that 52 percent of blacks had credit scores so low that they would qualify only for the less desirable subprime mortgages, as did 16 percent of whites. Accordingly, 49 percent of blacks in the data cited by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ended up with subprime mortgages, as did 13 percent of whites and 10 percent of Asians.3 In short, the three groups’ respective rankings in terms of the kinds of mortgage loans they could get was similar to their respective rankings in average credit ratings.
But such statistics, so damaging to the prevailing preconception that intergroup differences in outcomes showed racial bias, were almost never mentioned in most of the mass media. With credit ratings being what they were, the statistics were consistent with Discrimination IA (judging each applicant as an individual), but were reported in the media, in politics and in academia as proof of Discrimination II, arbitrary bias against whole groups.
While the omitted statistics would have undermined the prevailing preconception that white lenders were biased against black applicants, that preconception at least seemed plausible, even if it failed to stand up under closer scrutiny. But the idea that white lenders would also be discriminating against white applicants, and in favor of Asian applicants, lacked even plausibility. What was equally implausible was that black-owned banks were discriminating against black applicants. But in fact black-owned banks turned down black applicants for home mortgage loans at a higher rate than did white-owned banks.4
 United States Commission on Civil Rights, Civil Rights and the Mortgage Crisis (Washington: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2009), p. 53.
 Ibid. See also page 61; Robert B. Avery and Glenn B. Canner, “New Information Reported under HMDA and Its Application in Fair Lending Enforcement,” Federal Reserve Bulletin, Summer 2005, p. 379; Wilhelmina A. Leigh and Danielle Huff, “African Americans and Homeownership: The Subprime Lending Experience, 1995 to 2007,” Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, November 2007, p. 5.
 Jim Wooten, “Answers to Credit Woes are Not in Black and White,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 6,2007, p. 12A.
 Harold A. Black, M. Cary Collins and Ken B. Cyree, “Do Black-Owned Banks Discriminate Against Black Borrowers?” Journal of Financial Services Research, Vol. 11, Issue 1-2 (February 1997), pp. 189-204. Here, as elsewhere, it should not be assumed that two unexamined samples are equal in the relevant variable& In this case, there is no reason to assume that those blacks who applied to black banks were the same as those blacks who applied to white banks.
Thomas Sowell, Discrimination and Disparities, Revised and Enlarged Edition (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2019), 88-89 (added references).