While all of these fallacies have a certain plausibility that gives them their staying power, this makes it even more important to carefully examine their flaws. Sowell holds these beliefs under the microscope and draws conclusions that are sure to inspire rigorous debate.
©2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Sowell is fearless and invariably so far ahead of the curve in discussing economics or politics or pretty much anything that the rest of us are left with eating his intellectual dust. I can't think of a higher compliment that that." (Fred Barnes, Executive Editor, Weekly Standard)
This book will force you to think through the economic dogma you have been fed all your life. Much of what you thought you knew, you will realize, was indeed fallacious.
If you have an open mind, then this book is for you. It will confirm many of your beliefs and possibility challenge some others. But be forewarned, this book covers such as wide variety of topics that there is a good chance that you will find yourself on the wrong side of at least one good argument. What matters most is that you grow from the experience.
The book covers a number of topics. These include rush hour traffic, real estate prices in California, CEO pay, college personnel pay, pay by gender, crime in cities, urban slums, slavery outside North America, foreign aid, third world countries, and discrimination. Usually a chapter is devoted to a topic. Each topic contains many questions. Supporting information comes from history, census data, and other economic sources. For example, the lives of the Indians changed when the European settlers brought horses to North America.
Since 2008, many economic facts still ring true. In August, 2010, Beijing has a ten day traffic jam. California real estate prices are still high. CEOs still get paid a lot. The earthquake in Haiti reveals a poor government. Nigeria does not protect its oil industry. The nationalization of the oil and gas industry does not make a country rich.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
Although another reviewer points out, correctly, that the author's biases come across from start to finish, nevertheless this volume was quite interesting and informative, and well worth the time. Responsible, educated Americans are exposed to a constant barrage of statistics from all points of the political compass. This book is one attempt at encouraging a questioning of the underpinnings of any statistical factoids. For example, everyone has heard the statistic that women make only 75 cents for every dollar men make. I think most reasonable people suspect sexual prejudice is part of this difference, but also suspect there may be more to it than just prejudice. Sowell points out weaknesses of this factoid - including an analysis of subgroups of women and men that are most similar (adult, never married, no children) - in this subgroup women make substantially more than men. Although I do not agree with many of the author's political beliefs - I think anyone who wants to understand the danger of statistical factoids should take a listen (but keep a good supply of grains of salt handy).
I'm a manager of a lawncare crew that listens to audio books when feasible. I have 2 years of business and 3 towards a history degree.
This book debunks a lot of "studies" that find discrimination by linking it all to various statistical slights of hand. Professor Sowell goes indepth with his explanations of various cultural arguments. Warning, may persaude more liberal readers that their die-hard beliefs are wrong through the application of variables such as education and working hours to disprove many racial and sexist arguments made about our current times.
The theme could be that it is not the things you don't know that create most problems, but the things you think you know but are false that create the real problems.
Dr. Sowell explains the common fallacies that undermine our thinking.
Concise, objective, eye opening, well though out. A MUST LISTEN. Mr. Sowell brings you to a better understanding of how we have arrived at a lot of erroneous conclusions in this country and different policies that are ineffective and make no sense. Sound boring? It isn't. Very well narrated.
Just about every facet of economic "fairness" is examined in an empirical and reasoned way and exposed for the actual failures they are in the real world. From rent control to executive salaries, these and other topics are examined by one the most brilliant economic minds living today. One of the most important books ever written for the common man on economics related in an approachable and understandable way. It's about the things we talk about at the barbershop and at barbeques. The insights and answers provided may be unsettling for those that readily accept the conventional wisdom presented by the media and politicians. Highly recommended for anyone that has never had a class in economics and wants a better understanding of the basics through real life examples on familiar topics.
One characteristic of Thomas Sowell's books, but not necessarily his newspaper columns, is extreme caution and carefulness to say little that cannot be proven by irrefutable supporting data cited in copious footnotes and end notes. This book follows that pattern.
It is true that he is conservative but he tries to be objective and accurate in his observations.
His conservatism comes from his life experience. He grew up in Harlem. Dropped out of high school and was a Marine in the Korean War. He returned from the war, got an undergraduate degree in economics from Harvard, a master's degree from Columbia and a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago where some of the conservatism of Milton Friedman undoubtedly influenced him.
This book has few flaws. It points out many instances where our politicians have done foolish things by not studying and understanding the data upon which their conclusions rested. He sites many instances where the population as a whole has based popular opinion on an inadequate factual foundation.
I will point out one instance where I think he made one of the mistakes he so ably pointed out in the thinking of others. That mistake is basing decisions on only part of the evidence.
He seems to think that focused, intelligent hard work can overcome any adversity. In general he may be correct, but there are situations where opportunity is stifled by circumstance. He does not subscribe to the belief that overpopulation causes poverty. He correctly cites the successes of resource poor counties like Singapore and Japan that have overcome their circumstances, but fails to grasp that some poor countries with people with little or no education struggling to survive on a fraction of an acre of arable land per person aren't likely to achieve the same result as Japan or Singapore. The same principles apply to families. Too many children competing for too few resources is a localized version of over population that can stifle opportunity.
Everyone would profit from reading this book. I rate it at five stars.
It is obvious that the writer has an agenda and is using data to support this agenda. At times the writter uses old studies or avoids information that could show those fallacies. However, the important lesson learned from this book is to show the reader how data can be manipulated. For example, the writer believes that members of one race will not discriminate against people of their own race for a profit or that a person would not have such strong prejudice as to refuse to do business with certain groups even though it would cause a loss of income. The lesson I learned is there are so many factors intertwined that people using data should be very wary when using studies to prove causation and correlation. Most often this simplistic view could result in poor conclusions. I would recommend this book as an aid on how information can and is manipulated. It also shows how gross statistics often creates fallacies that can cause harm.
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