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Economic Facts and Fallacies

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  3,033 ratings  ·  245 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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4.21  · 
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 ·  3,033 ratings  ·  245 reviews

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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
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
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
Ryan Lackey
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Jan 10, 2009 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
Jan 30, 2013 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
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 misunderstandin ...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
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
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
Thomas Sowell is one of my favorite authors - so I knew exactly what to expect when I started reading Economic Facts and Fallacies.

The book concentrates on popular fallacies related to sex, race, income, the third world, the academia and cities. As typical with Sowell, the arguments and data are presented in a extremely clear and convincing matter. The author concentrates on very popular fallacies, most of which are relevant to this day: income inequality, rent control, unequal representation et
Jan Notzon
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As usual, Thomas Sowell hits a home run with this book that takes apart many urban legends with incisive reasoning and empirical evidence. The bonus is that Sowell always makes complex subjects eminently understandable for the average reader. He is the past master at it. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand how an economy, country or society actually functions.
Mad Hab
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yet another brilliant book from Sowell. If you read his previous books (Black rednecks and White liberals, etc) there might be a little repetition, but other than that, the book is brilliant
Kico Meirelles
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If I could recommend one book to everyone that wants to better understand our world, this book from Thomas Sowell would be it. Sowell is genius and his writing about complex subjects is ver accessible. A must read!
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
Sushant Kc
Apr 13, 2016 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
May 14, 2015 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
Jul 08, 2014 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
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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
“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.” 14 likes
“While “greed” is one of the most popular—and most fallacious—explanations of the very high salaries of corporate executives, when your salary depends on what other people are willing to pay you, you can be the greediest person on earth and that will not raise your pay in the slightest. Any serious explanation of corporate executives’ salaries must be based on the reasons for those salaries being offered, not the reasons why the recipients desire them.” 5 likes
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