Walter E. Williams

Another pitfall to straight thinking is sometimes called the cause and effect fallacy. That fallacy is made when a person sees event B coming on the heels of event A and then says A caused B. There may no causal relationship at all. Such is the case when the rooster crows and shortly thereafter the sun rises. That is easy to see but many historians assert that the 1929 stock market crash caused the 1930s Great Depression. Little is further from the truth. Instead, it was caused by inept fiscal, monetary and regulatory policies of the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations.

There are a number of other pitfalls to straight thinking that I lecture on as introductory material before we begin to explore economic theory. I tell students that if they hear me say something subjective, without my having prefaced it with "in my opinion," they are to raise their hand and tell me that they took my class to learn economics and not to be indoctrinated with my values. Personally, I want students to share my values that personal liberty, along with free markets, is morally superior to other forms of human organization. The most effective means to accomplish that goal is to give them the tools to be tough, rigorous, hard-minded thinkers and they will probably reach the same conclusions as I have.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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