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Economic Facts and Fallacies

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,181 Ratings  ·  186 Reviews
Economic Facts and Fallacies exposes some of the most popular fallacies about economic issues-and does so in a lively manner and without requiring any prior knowledge of economics by the reader. These include many beliefs widely disseminated in the media and by politicians, such as mistaken ideas about urban problems, income differences, male-female economic differences, a ...more
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Basic Books (first published December 30th 2007)
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Jun 03, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
This fascinating book peels away the truths from the untruths about economics in our societies. While the style of writing is rather dry, the content is quite engaging. Many commonly held beliefs are simply wrong, as can be shown easily with a few facts and some straight-forward thinking.

Law school and college accreditation boards are not designed to hold schools to some acceptable standard for their students. They are designed to maintain the elite status of the so-called "top" schools, and to
Nov 19, 2012 Ezzy rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012
Most of this book is just bullshit. Mainly, it's pandering to a political ideology while pointing out weaknesses (some fatal, in his defense) of statistics that are bantered around. However, he moves from "here's a weakness in this study" to "my ideology, which disagrees with this study, is now proven right". However, all this book actually does is show that nobody has real data to support their ideologies- Sowell least of all. To pretend that disproving one hypothesis proves another is the heig ...more
Jul 26, 2016 Cami rated it really liked it
I’m just finishing this book now so I won’t spoil the ending for you, just kidding. It really is a great book applying basic economic theories to real life situations.
He spends quite a bit of time debunking economic myths and explaining the real reasons why for example, real estate near San Francisco and college tuition are so ridiculously expensive. Basically, it comes down to too much government economic control.
I really do love Sowell’s logical practical approach. It’s great in contrast to
Oct 31, 2011 Robert rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book that challenged many preconceived notions and sacred cows that continually arise in social and economic debates. The volume of evidence cited for the author's arguments made this book both exhausting to read and difficult to dismiss.

While reading this book, I felt like I was back in my economics classes where the professors constantly asked the students to look deeper and not simply react to a statistic, but to really understand what factors shaped the data. Rega
Apr 04, 2011 Kenny rated it it was amazing

Thomas Sowell’s remarkable book Economic Facts and Fallacies is even more remarkable for its brevity. In just over two hundred pages, he tackles and deconstructs fallacies infecting our cities, our relationships, the academy, business, race relations, and the Third World.
John Adams said famously, “Facts are stubborn things.” The Austin Lounge Lizards sang, “Life is hard, but life is hardest when you’re dumb.” Both are true and one of the most difficult things in life is keeping a
Jacob Greenmyer
May 18, 2016 Jacob Greenmyer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
Sowell's indisputable logic and reliance on empirical evidence flies in the face of all conventional wisdom. Every young person should read this book before attending college, during their stay at college, and after college.
Kym Andrew Robinson
Thomas Sowell is perhaps at the forefront of conventional economics. He leads the vanguard with distinct focus and clarity. Often his books can read some what dry as he makes his point with a thoroughness which is seldom countered directly by those who could be called Statist economists.

I like Sowell and have enjoyed all of his books that I have read, this one being perhaps the 'blandest'. Now I say this not to critique the man but perhaps more so as praise as to how he often delivers such compr
Chuck Engelhardt
Jun 04, 2012 Chuck Engelhardt rated it it was amazing
Sowell is not Levitt & Dubner, their book is a fun read; however, Sowell does have the same ability to take "conventional wisdom" and peel away the superficial layers to get to what's really happening underneath. He focuses on the results, not simply the intent. Andy Stanley wrote, "It is our direction, not our intention, that determines our destination" (Principle of the Path - Highly recommended) and in Economic Facts and Fallacies, Sowell shows how our intent, coupled with misunderstandin ...more
Jun 16, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant book. The writing is uncomplicated even when dealing with complex issues.
Thomas Sowell tackles economic issues that effect many of us in the course of our lives and breaks them down to the point where we can clearly see the simple choices that people make and how dynamically
that impacts our society.

This is not dry reading. This is not boring at all.

Everyone "knows" that Homes in california cost ten times more than homes in the midwest. But in 1975 the average cost of a home i
Kenny Cranford
Mar 07, 2011 Kenny Cranford rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-books
Great book - started off slow but really picked up in the last half. Sowell is a very bright guy and combed through many, many books and articles to write this book. The notes/appendix section is over 10% of the book! His writing style is very preachy but I enjoyed his insights and anecdotes.

His chapters on income, race, and "third world" countries were the most interesting and the most controversial. On the income front, he does a good job dispelling the myths that the middle class is shrinkin
Oct 03, 2008 Nicholas rated it liked it
Shelves: economics
Pure Sowell. Same as usual. Stop interfering. Let people do what they want cause they know better than you do. Oh and things aren't as bad as everyone says.

I really liked his point about traditional wives investing int he economic future of their husbands. I never thought about it that way. Probably because I never thought about it.

Covers; Urban, Gender, Academic, Income, Racial, and the Third World.


"No matter how much is done to promote health, more could be done. No matter how safe thin
Oct 05, 2009 Toby rated it liked it
Good basic stuff here. Great chapters on the differences between men and women in the economy, race and economy, and the third world and economy.

He's adequately hard on "third parties" intervening into situations where two parties will do. But I wonder if he falls prey to one of his own fallacies (the chess board fallacy) assuming a kind of interchangeability between various parties (at least on that point). He's just not addressing the hardest questions in other words.

I was also fairly impress
Jan 30, 2013 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“One of the themes of ‘Economic Facts and Fallacies’ is that fallacies are not simply crazy ideas but in fact have a certain plausibility that gives them their staying power-and makes careful examination of their flaws both necessary and important, as well as sometimes humorous.”—from the synopis.

Thomas Sowell is the epitome of an oxymoron. Not only is he a high school dropout with a PhD; he is also one of those rarest of strange persons, a rational econom
Jan 10, 2009 Brian rated it did not like it
I only read about a quarter of the book and then just skimmed the rest.

The book is mostly a litany of facts and anecdotes that attempt to call into question of refute some popular or commonly-held beliefs or would-be facts about economics. I think the author's thesis is that you need to look very critically at the world lest you fall into fallacious reasoning/conclusions, but this thesis is obvious and the examples are complicated, wandering, mostly uninteresting and often unconvincing. There ar
Feb 17, 2009 Lynn rated it it was amazing
This is a well written and incisive analysis of economics based on false assumptions about race, education and other major areas of society by a scholar and social commentator. Sowell turns economic issues on their heads by introducing an unorthodox way of viewing inter alia poverty and race and education. Claiming that the reasons for disparities in these areas are not salvageable by government intervention, (witness LB's "war on poverty" that only served to make the poor believe that everythin ...more
Ice Bear
Jul 29, 2011 Ice Bear rated it liked it
As the author alludes to, statistics can be used to prove opposite sides of an argument. This book makes you think about the larger issues covered, helpful if you live in the US. The main view I take is that the author has used his logic and evidence to make the 'generally held beliefs' be given a verdict of 'not proven' which probably does not sell as well as the word 'fallacy'.

The complexities and multiple variables perhaps mean that any conclusions may be difficult to reach rather than just p
Kristie Soliman
May 30, 2016 Kristie Soliman rated it it was amazing
When I started this book, I would never had guessed I'd give it 5 stars, mainly because my opinions on economics are not extraordinarily conservative (although slightly conservative) and Sowell is known for his conservatism in this regard.

That being said, I have great respect for Sowell's ability to present and analyze data WITHOUT politicizing the results. For example, he provides data as to the differences in working hours for women of various ages and statuses, and then explains how those st
Sushant Kc
Apr 13, 2016 Sushant Kc rated it liked it
This book was 50/50 for me. That is why I gave it a three star rating. In this book I like the fact that Thomas Sowell tries to explain how many of the fact people believe in economics is not a true is a everybody believes (fallacy). Thomas Sowell try to prove common misconceptions about economics. Talking about things like Pay difference, ethic groups, educational differences, as well as third world countries. That are better chapters than others. One of my favorite chapters is when he talks ab ...more
pavana Kumar Varanasi
key takeaways are:

1)Ancient Rome had a population similar in size to that of Dallas today 14 but living in an area only two percent of the size of Dallas. so cheaper transportation costs of 20th century made more people to go out and stay in suburbs than was the case in
last century.
2)In 1901, housing costs took 23 percent of the average American's income. By 2003, it took 33 percent of a far larger income. In California, where government interventions in housing markets have been especially perv
May 14, 2015 E rated it it was amazing
Sowell is superb, just superb, at poking holes at conventional (read: liberal) wisdom. The problem is that fallacies are powerful. For instance, the zero-sum fallacy: if one person gains economically, another loses. This cannot be true! If so, free trade would never happen. Or the chess-pieces fallacy: that the economy is one giant experiment and the "experts" can change the parameters to get any outcome they desire. This is well-loved by progressive, big-government types, but it just isn't true ...more
Apr 18, 2015 Sylvia rated it liked it
The book is ok, it is not really about economics but rather about how economics has been misused to support political agendas. Economics is used way too often by politicians (of any view) for claims that have no economic standing.

The good: the book discusses discrepancies in popular sentiments about politically charged issues. In most chapters, an interesting analysis is presented to highlight that it is hard to think of the world as black and white and that there are many determinants of an out
Sep 27, 2014 Jimmy rated it it was amazing
Economist Thomas Sowell is the man. I first started reading his books back in January 2012 and this is the fourth book I read. I must say I enjoyed everyone of them! In this volume Sowell examines some of the economic myths and mantras by political pundits and debunks them with clear thinking, sound economic principles and actual statistics. In light of the sensitivity of some of the subject matter I appreciate Sowell’s tone of the book in which he bring to bear scholarship without inflammatory ...more
Dec 10, 2009 thewestchestarian rated it liked it
This book lacks the increasingly popular long subtitle that most non-fiction books now sport; I would like to suggest “In Defense of the Wealthy”. Over this dense “an economist looks at…” collection of analyses of popular politic topics was a challenge to push through but worth the excursion so some degree. The advertising copy for this book includes the phrase: “Writing in a lively manner…” – I believe this would be the first fallacy.
An early section of the book deals with property rights and I
Jul 23, 2011 Midclassind rated it did not like it
I liked the last two chapters. The book is not objective. He cleverly points out libertarian successes and socialist failures and dodges the opposite. The numbers give the reader the impression of objectivity, but the comparisons are far from it. Two examples (spoiler alert):

He compared the failures of housing policy in San Francisco (built on a mountainous peninsula prone to earthquakes) to the successes in Houston (flat plain for a 30 mile radius).

He compared the 1% wealthy individuals to 20%
Jul 01, 2013 Sean rated it really liked it
Sowell deftly and swiftly dismantles a ridiculous parade of modern economic myths. He explodes one common, deceptive fallacy after another through easily comprehensible yet thorough analysis, revealing the sadly naive, or disturbingly deliberate, misuse of statistics employed and acted upon by third-parties.

This book is an enlightening collection of the myths so pervasive and most often detrimental to the people and politicians who hold them as the flawed bases of social thought and interaction,
Andrea Balfour
Jun 06, 2016 Andrea Balfour rated it it was ok
It was an interesting book but I found most items outlined herein were common sense. Maybe it's my training in Marketing, knowing how statistics or truths can be bent so that you're not necessarily lying but you're not necessarily telling the truth either. That's what this book was about. It works to open the reader's mind to understand the many fallacies presented as truths from specific research. Often the same research results yield many different interpretations depending on which data you c ...more
Jun 15, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Sowell hits another home run with this latest look into the realities of economics in the United States. In this third book of his I have read, he looks at the Facts and Fallacies of Urban life, Gender issues, Academia, Race, Income ineqtuity and the Third World. As always, his prose is very readable and fascinating, and his arguments compelling. This book ought to be required reading for graduation from every high school and college. (It OUGHT to be required reading for every American ci ...more
Jun 24, 2015 Deadhacker rated it it was ok
I only read the first tenth of the book. If you are looking for well-explained, anecdotal cases in support of neo-classical economics, this is the book for you. I read some of the reviews that say the book contains surprising information, & I don't know where that comes from. At least the first tenth of the book is purely in support of current economic ideas (free markets are best, government always breaks things). Given that, the book is clearly written & many of the cases are interesti ...more
Michael David Cobb
May 21, 2015 Michael David Cobb rated it liked it
Shelves: bored
I began this book because I got a little tired of reading science fiction and Patterico gave it good marks. However much sense it makes to read Thomas Sowell, I can only see this panoply of facts getting you into interestingly pointless discussions with people you don't know. Of course Sowell is correct and often enough in rather clever ways, but this is a book for people younger than I am with trouble understanding America (or at least more curiosity about fallacious thinking than I have).

Jurij Fedorov
Aug 01, 2015 Jurij Fedorov rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
Sowell is a great mind. One of the bests economic minds of our time. This book has a lot of science, examples and great discussions. But he is a huge supporter of the free market and a huge anti-government fanatic. So even though his mind is fantastic and his knowledge is extremely deep his bias nearly ruins this great book. Remove the biased parts and you have one of the greatest economic books ever written. With the bias in it it seems to lack the final touch to make it a true classic. Not onc ...more
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Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social commentator, and author of dozens of books. He often writes from an economically laissez-faire perspective. He is currently a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In 1990, he won the Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 2002 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific scholars ...more
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“Whatever we wish to achieve in the future, it must begin by knowing where we are in the present- not where we wish we were, or whee we wish others to think we are, but where we are in fact.” 10 likes
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