Hormegeddon | Bill Bonner

Summary of: Hormegeddon: How Too Much Of A Good Thing Leads To Disaster
By: Bill Bonner


Ever heard of the phrase ‘too much of a good thing’? This is the main premise of the book ‘Hormegeddon: How Too Much Of A Good Thing Leads To Disaster’ by Bill Bonner. We experience hormesis when a small dose of something proves beneficial, but an overabundance can lead to detrimental consequences. Although this concept is quite simple, it is often overlooked, especially in the implementation of public policies where governments attempt to resolve issues on a large scale with limited understanding. Bonner offers a comprehensive analysis on how large-scale planning can backfire, the role of leadership in the government, and the danger of piling on debts. Overall, the book serves as an eye-opener and warns readers about the potential disasters that can result from well-intended actions.


Hormegeddon explores the impact of governments’ small-scale problem-solving logic on large-scale planning, resulting in public policy disasters known as hormegeddons. Historically, societies have thrived due to the trillions of good decisions made by private citizens in their private lives. However, modern society has become crippled with processed half-truths in the form of public information that shapes faulty narratives through advertising and mass media. Governments fail when they disrupt the feedback loop and prevent society from learning from their mistakes. Planners believe they know what is best for their communities, leading to the creation of hormegeddons, where too much of a good thing creates disasters.

The False Promises of Modern Economics

Modern economists claim to have all the answers for a science that doesn’t exist. They use a “Simpleton’s Economic Model” that reduces complex economic realities to numbers, creating a false story that distorts how the world works. By looking at past predictions about the economy, it is clear that modern economists are nothing more than “accomplished charlatans” and “able swindlers.” Economics cannot be planned with math, since converting everything to numbers creates an illusion of precision. Economists manipulate the most crucial numbers, such as inflation and the unemployment rate, to present a rosy picture of what’s happening. Classical economists, on the other hand, knew their limitations and viewed themselves as natural philosophers or moral philosophers. They observed people, nature, animals and the economy, attempting to find underlying principles.

The Fallacy of Leadership

Fewer Leaders Bring More Change

Do you believe that society needs more or better leaders? An author challenges this notion. The truth is that society needs fewer leaders because leadership is a waste of time and money. In reality, leaders are liars who make flashy decisions and drive their companies down the wrong road. The greatest leaders are “those who do it most grandly.” Often, small-scale leadership proves genuinely useful in small tribes. However, when it comes to the government working on a larger scale, leadership becomes problematic. National leaders live far away from people, separated by layers of bureaucracy, making the feedback loop between action and result weak and distorted.

Government exists as a struggle between insiders and outsiders, where insiders use government to maintain existing hierarchies and exploit outsiders. Everyone wants power, and the most accessible way to reach it is through leadership; that’s why government and religion can be involved. Leaders make decisions that benefit themselves, leading to an imbalance of power in society.

In conclusion, leadership slows down progress and often exploits people’s needs. What we need is a collaborative effort that honors equality and democracy rather than a few people in power.

The Fallacy of Government Security

Governments cannot make people more secure, but they have created a mythology that has resulted in significant problems. In the US, the “war on terror” is an example of wasted resources that have not made the country safer. The belief that the state can provide security is misguided, and attempts to do so always come at a cost to the public. Governments can redistribute wealth, but they cannot create it. The free market could do a better job of providing security more efficiently and more cheaply. The notion of social welfare states, originally created to rally support for government regimes, has resulted in people foolishly backing governments, even when those governments are inefficient or ineffective. The only thing that increased government spending on wars and social welfare programs achieves is more government spending. In the end, people must understand that the government’s role is to maintain order, but it is not responsible for ensuring individual security.

The Cost of Central Planning

The free market is a place where individuals learn from their financial mistakes, whilst government programs continue to receive funding whether they succeed or not. This excerpt explores how governments undertake massive projects without testing them first and bailing out poorly run businesses. It compares this behavior to ancient societies where those who planned the projects were actively involved in the work and the consequences of failure. By keeping interest rates low, the government prevents people from correcting their earlier mistakes, creating “liquidity traps” and “debt traps” that are hard to escape. Ultimately, the message is that central planning imitates true progress but only in the short run, and that the government actively disrupts the market’s attempts to self-correct. The book advocates that individuals and businesses should face the consequences of their actions, make amends and learn, and the government should not bail them out.

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