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Economic Facts and Fallacies

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  4,696 ratings  ·  422 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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Stetson Although you can read them in any order and understand most of the text, you may wish to structure your reading order by your background. If you have …moreAlthough you can read them in any order and understand most of the text, you may wish to structure your reading order by your background. If you have some understanding of basic economics, then jump to Economic Facts and Fallacies. If you don't, read Basic Economics first.

As you probably know, Sowell's perspective on economic theory and history is right-of-center (his politics in general are conservative). He also tends toward qualitative (rather than quantitative) approaches. However a significant portion of Economic Facts and Fallacies is dedicated to criticizing particular economic statistics/measurements for their limitations and misuse. I would recommend reading even more broadly than just Sowell for a comprehensive perspective on economics, especially given the current state of the field has a much more quantitative bent and narrow focus.

Overall, Sowell's books are great reads and full of interesting insights. So I recommend reading as much of him as you have time for.

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Nov 05, 2012 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
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
This book was way ahead of it’s time. Almost every economic fallacy repeated by ideologues such as Paul Krugman and Bernie Sanders can be found debunked in this book. Economist Thomas Sowell makes empirical arguments, rather than anecdotal arguments made by people like Krugman and Sanders, to disprove the claims that wages have stagnated, income inequality is hurting the country, and that the poor are staying poor. He also disproves the much repeated myth that FDR ended the Great Depression with ...more
David Rubenstein
Jun 03, 2015 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
Jun 06, 2008 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 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This gentleman has some points of view that are rather polarizing, but I have to say, he is very thoughtful and cites everything, which I appreciate. I disagree with his views on reverse mortgages, but other than that, I want to have this man's babies, all of them. Unfortunately, mingling my inferior intellectual DNA with his would be more of a tragedy than a positive thing, so no babies of his for me. Maybe I could be a surrogate for his clones?

Seriously, he looks at things that seem completel
Apr 04, 2011 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
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sowell is probably my favorite economic writer -- not for his novel ideas, but for his excellent presentation of the entire body of generally reasonable economic thought. He would be my dream pick for a political leader with real power.

This book is a great take-down of widely believed but wrong ideas about rent control, gender pay imbalances, racial economic differences, affirmative action, etc.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
There are some good points here, but they largely get overshadowed by the ideological reaching performed by the author in support of a more laissez-faire ideal. It is absolutely true that social policies can have unintended consequences, necessitating a good understanding of the issue and its causes. However, Sowell starts from the premise that the government is largely incompetent and has no real purpose in interfering in agreements between others. His laissez-faire ideal is good if we assume t ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
To set the stage, I more often identify with centrist ideas (hard to explain) and the book was a conscious attempt to learn more about the “right” – Thomas Sowell is openly conservative, so it fit the bill.

I must confess, I enjoyed the book more than I expected. It both brought me closer to some conservative economic ideas, made me think deeper about some statistics and public policies, and confirmed my belief that, as a society, we are far away from being able to have an unbiased discourse abou
Alan Tomkins-Raney
Excellent and extremely edifying. In clear and direct language Sowell demonstrates how plausible-sounding fallacies collapse under the weight of hard evidence and analysis. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Anyone interested in effective public policy and economic opportunity for all needs to read this. ...more
Sep 19, 2008 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
Dec 10, 2009 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
This book is quite a bit drier than I remember Basic Economics being. It did pick up in Chapters 5, 6, and 7 about income, race, and third-world countries, respectively.

I did find that Sowell sometimes picked a weaker form of an argument when he could have been a lot more convincing. I think you really need to read Basic Economics first to understand his method of thinking, and then it will make a lot more sense. I think this book - especially the earlier parts - takes for granted that you under
Jun 16, 2009 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
Oct 31, 2011 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
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you have previously read anything by Thomas Sowell, you know you are in for an interesting read. First of all, he knows economic theory inside and out. Second, he is a talented and experienced writer who knows how to convey what could be complicated ideas in a very understandable format. Third, he can actually make economics interesting so that you will learn something. In this book, Economic Facts and Fallacies, Dr. Sowell shows how the old adage came about: Figures don't lie, but liars can ...more
Aug 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Professor Sowell teaches us to think critically about statistics in this comprehensive book that covers many fallacious arguments still prevalent in our politics today.
David Schultz
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My friend said this book changed his life when he read it in college and that Thomas Sowell is a hero.

I enjoyed the thoughtful and logical discussion of some popular issues.
Kenny Cranford
Mar 07, 2011 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
Jake Pointer
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When reviewing this book, The Economist had this to say 'Thomas Sowell marshals his arguments with admirable clarity and authority. There is not a chapter in which he does not produce a statistic that both surprises and overturns received wisdom'. I wholeheartedly agree. In essence, this short book evaluates six common economic subjects where certain beliefs surrounding these subjects have become widespread. It puts these beliefs to the test by seeing how they stand up against the facts. Needles ...more
One can understand why PhD. Sowell is well respected as an economist.
He's quite thorough and explains very well.

I did find good points in his presentation on how cultures, resources, geographic conditions and so on either help or delay advancements. (Some points reminded me of PhD. Marvin Harris.)
He doesn't make a "desert" case, he explains phenomena and presents a very pragmatic point of view.

The parts related to race, gender and universities were quite interesting. However, can't h
In economic facts and fallacies, Thomas Sowell talks about the different misconceptions that people make about economics. There are a lot of interesting points made about why we think this and what we should actually do. A good example of this is the chapter about cities. The author talks about housing and how it is expensive because the government got involved. I would recommend this book if you like economics. It requires basic understanding of economics to get some concepts.
John Burns
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Another powerful and brilliant non-fiction book from the highly influential writer Thomas Sowell. I enjoyed this more than A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles. That book was this huge summary of many different works of Socioeconomic literature and the whole thing felt kind of bogged down in academia, intellectualism and abstraction. This one reminded me more of Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy where Sowell sets his sights less ambitiously on some ve ...more
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing

“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 www.goodreads.com 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
Chuck Engelhardt
Mar 14, 2012 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 misunderstanding of ...more
Jul 23, 2009 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
Kym 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
Feb 17, 2009 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
Mar 17, 2011 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
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
First degree burn, cold water can't save them, they need ice cubes. Economic Facts and Fallacy is possibly one of the best works by Sowell after Basic Economics. He fired so many shots at the fallacies that they became smithereens. I especially enjoyed the attack on the widespread educational corruption. ...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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