The Evolution of Lisp is a fascinating read if you like languages (its a paper I picked up, I think, from the members of the Elixir slack).
Page 37 (its a PDF) has a great overview of the early discussions on
false. Worth a read to understand some of the design decisions in many languages. Short quote:
Almost since the beginning Lisp has used the symbol
nilas the distinguished object that indicates the end of a list and which is therefore itself the empty list. This same object also serves as the
falsevalue returned by predicates. McCarthy has commented that these decisions were made rather lightheartedly and later proved unfortunate.
Furthermore the earliest implementations established a tradition of using the zero address as the representation of NIL McCarthy also commented that besides encouraging pornographic programming giving a special interpretation to the address has caused difficulties in all subsequent implementations [McCarthy 1978]
Also interesting is a paper from 1989 called Prolog vs Lisp which is interesting for at least two reasons:
Prolog was used for the first implementation of Erlang and the lispish characteristics continue through to Elixir today as well
The debate about benchmarking and performance is hardly a new one - and this paper does a good job of summarising the broader challenges of language selection