book hack
Economic Facts and FallaciesBy Thomas Sowell

In a Nutshell

Revered economist Thomas Sowell addresses, in a highly relatable style, many of the unhelpful assumptions that underpin current thinking about U.S. society and economics.

Favorite quote

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of fact and evidence.

John Adams, Second U.S. President


Economic Facts and Fallacies demonstrates how much popular economic thinking, both in the U.S. and globally, follows from unconscious and unchallenged biases. Thomas Sowell maintains that many accepted 'facts' stem from fundamentally flawed logic, leading to narratives that twist reality. The mistake most often called out is confusing correlation and causality. Just because two things coincide doesn't mean one caused the other – no matter how tempting the conclusion.

Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCL, and Amherst, and his published works cross the divide between the academic and the popular. Sowell first wrote this book in 2007 while a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, yet all its key examples are still topical today.

The book covers key mistakes such as the Zero Sum Fallacy, the Post Hoc Fallacy, and the Chess Pieces Fallacy, explaining each by means of clear examples. People often take it as a given that workplaces discriminate, that foreign aid helps bring prosperity or that urban riots follow economic deprivation. This book robustly challenges those positions, calling into question the usual 'solutions' that are, in consequence, nothing of the kind.

Here are the 3 key insights from this Hack

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    Fallacies are often understandable, popular and persistent – yet still demonstrably wrong
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