Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | January 6, 2010

Thomas Sowell’s Economic Facts and Fallacies

Mythbusters to the Left's Cherished Mythology

Very good book.  Especially if you ever need factoids to arm your arguments.  Analytical, commonsense, rational Americans will love Sowell’s facts and figures.  Professor Sowell is one of the greatest minds of this generation.  Read everything he writes.   

The power of this book is showing how complexity rules.   Or, that complexity, not the devil, governs from the depths of details.  It’s an eye opener on economic myths.  Reminded me of the late Ernest May and Richard Neustadt’s “The Uses of History.”   Great book and one of the best classes I ever took.  

Sowell summarizes the four widespread fallacies as the zero-sum fallacy, the fallacy of composition, the chess-pieces fallacy, and the open-ended fallacy.   

  • Zero sum is the assumption that economic transactions are zero sum.  My gain = your loss.  Or, poor people paid for tax cuts for the rich. 
  • Composition is the belief that what is true for a part is true for the whole.
  • Chess pieces is to imagine theorists can “arrange the different members of society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board.”
  • Open-ended is the failure to account that resources are inherently limited and have alternative uses. 

This book isn’t for people who feel rather than think.  Not sure it should be wasted on politicians either.

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