Economic Facts and Fallacies
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Economic Facts and Fallacies

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,496 ratings  ·  146 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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Nov 19, 2012 Ezzy rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
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...more
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...more

“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...more

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...more
Chuck Engelhardt
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
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...more
Kenny Cranford
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...more
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
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...more
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,...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
Really enjoyed this book. Some, as would I, say that while Sowell's evidence, analysis and conclusions are interesting and have value, there are more factors at work. However to say this misses a few things.

1) people who would say that usually are qualifying themselves out of saying they liked or agreed in part at least with what a leading conservative intellectual said but cant admit it to their friends. That's my experience of people and of myself.

2) any moderately 'liberal' (in the American s...more
Петър Стойков
Цялото ревю:

Страхотна книга за това, което вярваме и което някои искат да вярваме за икономиката...
Omar Halabieh
1- "Fallacies abound in economic policies affecting everything from housing to international trade. Where the unintended consequences of these policies take years to unfold, the effects may not be traced back to their causes by many people. Even when the bad consequences follow closely after a given policy, many people may not connect the dots, and advocates of policies that backfire often attribute these bad consequences to something else. Sometimes they claim that the bad situation would have...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Thomas Sowell is feisty. He has to be as his economic theories are in direct opposition to much of what has become mainstream belief: a high minimum wage helps the poor, so does rent control, strict controls by government are needed to protect people from capitalist predators, black slavery in the US is the worst the world has ever known. Sowell quotes reliable sources to debunk all of these and more; this is a richly footnoted book.

Economic Facts and Fallacies takes an approach to economics in...more
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...more
This was a great introductory book to many contemporary issues. He goes through different issues such as education, racism, sexism, and urban development and illustrates which parts of current argument and policy are based on economic facts or fallacies. His main point is that politics or activists oftentimes over simplify issues such as chalking it up to discrimination when there are many different factors involved. I liked his section on urban facts and fallacies best. He talked about falsely...more


In 2001, for example, cash and in-kind transfers together accounted for 77.8 percent of the economic resources of people in the bottom 20 percent. The alarming statistics so often cited in the media and by politicians count only 22 percent of the actual economic resources at their disposal.

Three-quarters of those Americans whose incomes were in the bottom 20 percent in 1975 were also in the top 40 percent at some point during the next 16 years.

As of 2001 a household income of $84,000 was...more
A decent book that highlights many misconceptions, usually based on deliberate bias toward certain narratives which align with their world vision, people have about what statistics seem to be telling them. Two exceptionally strong points Sowell makes are on the use of tautologies (circular reasoning to create "infallible" arguments) and the use of "exploitation" as a political device for class warfare. This is succinctly put:

"Exploitation is a virtually perfect political explanation of income d...more
A nice little book, easy read - think of it as a collection of in-depth case studies derived from the basic austrian-leaning principles of Hazlitt’s' "Economics in one lesson" (which still can't be beat for clarity and succinctness).

Sowell dives into a few controversial subjects such as male-female income differences, race/income/poverty/ discrimination, college costs, third world development and a couple of others. He goes over and debunks a few commonly held beliefs/assertions about various c...more
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%...more
Nov 07, 2008 Richard rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone who cares anything about the world around them
This is an absolutely excellent book that exposes some of the most widely held and most influential fallacies of our time. Unfortunately, many of these fallacies drive governmental priorities, to the detriment of us all. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are immune from buying into erroneous thinking.

For example, one fallacy concerns the alleged inequality of income distribution among men versus women. Virtually every study of this effect ignores important differences in the two groups. Men tend...more
I did not read this cover to cover. I read it for pleasure, not for school, so I felt no guilt about skipping around to the interesting parts, and not reading parts that didn't interest me as much. Still, the book had some great insights.

The book really doesn't focus so much on economic facts as on economic fallacies. It has a basic intro and conclusion, with 6 topics covered in between.

The first chapter dealing with fallacies was about housing, and in my opinion, it was one of the strongest cha...more
The Fallacy of Composition:
-is the belief that what is true of a part is true of the whole.

Urban Facts and Fallacies:
governmental intervention on housing prices is one of the reasons why housing price is so high. Restrictions on the building of homes and apartment buildings take many forms. "Smart Growth" laws restrict the expansion of home building in suburban areas. "open space" laws which simply forbid the building of anything on land set aside in various areas. Respect for property rights m...more
I love common sense thinking. Unfortunately is is not so common these days. Mr. Sowell breaks down the fallacies in economics as seem today. He holds nothing back as is his style.

"Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author. He is currently
the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University"
~ Wikipedia

Thomas Sowell delivers a common sense view of the fallacies that are fed to the public on...more
Michael Connolly
Sowell talks about how economists with a political agenda do not think clearly. Examples:
(1) Economists talk about decreasing household income, without pointing out that households have gradually contained a smaller number of workers over the years, thus making it seems that worker income is decreasing,
(2) Economists talk about changes in income quintiles over time, without taking into account the fact that which particular people belonging to a particular quintile changes over time -- the top...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.” 7 likes
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