Most textbooks present the history of economic thought as a succession of names and theories. This results in a ‘Whig history’, a canon in which an older theory (and author) is replaced by a newer one because of ‘obvious’ rational reasons. Kenneth Boulding argued that this approach may be harmful to a student’s perception of the history of economic thought:
The student first learned what was wrong with Adam Smith and all the things in which he was wrong and confused, then he went on to learn what was the matter with Ricardo, then what was the matter with John Stuart Mill, and then what was the matter with Marshall. Many students never learned anything that was right at all, and I think emerged from the course with the impression that economics was a monumental collection of errors.