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Economyths: How the Science of Complex Systems is Transforming Economic Thought Paperback – 1 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848312199
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848312197
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 378,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"This is without doubt the best book I've read this year, and probably one of the most important books I've ever read.... Orrell exposes the rotten heart of economics... There are other books taking on economics, but I've not come across another that explains it so well for the layperson, takes in the credit crunch, totally destroys the validity of economics as we know it and should be required reading for every politician and banker. No, make that every voter in the land. This ought to be a real game changer of a book. Read it." --Brian Clegg, Popular Science website, May 2010

"The author dissects ten fundamental misunderstandings ... Orrell manages to convincingly explain the relevance of these myths and make them understandable, even for laymen, in a wider context." --Handelsblatt

"A must read for understanding the roots of the financial crisis, the severe limitations of the field of economics and what needs to be done to improve our ability to avoid future crises."
--Spyros Makridakis, author of Dance With Chance

About the Author

David Orrell is an applied mathematician and author of popular science books. He studied mathematics at the University of Alberta, and obtained his doctorate from Oxford University on the prediction of nonlinear systems. His work in applied mathematics and complex systems research has since led him to diverse areas such as weather forecasting, economics, and cancer biology. His work has been featured in the New Scientist, the Financial Times and on BBC Radio.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cremin Heavy Industries on 31 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I am by no means an economist. It was this fact that drove me towards this book as a means of (hopefully) gaining some insight into the financial mess the world now finds itself.
To be honest, I did find some of the early sections that dealt with more the more mathematical side of economics a little heavy-going for my non numerical brain. It really picked up for me later on when talking about the whole neo-classical economics and it's apparent wealth of shortcomings.
I always suspected there was something wrong with a world based on constant growth and the accumulation of wealth as the be-all and end-all of life. Now Economyths has given me an answer -and someone to blame.
Although the arguements are compelling to my layman's brain, I'm sure the author has an agenda of his own. That's OK though- it's also something that makes total sense to me.
Let's just hope somebody listens and people start to act before it all becomes too late.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Day on 31 May 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's clear, it's easy to read and it makes sense. It questions traditional economics, and while it's not a lone voice these days it won't find favour with the rich and powerful. Chapter 8 is particularly good, questioning growth and emphasising that we have only one earth, only one store of resources, far too much waste and a growing population. Don't just read it and enjoy it. Read it and take action!
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69 of 78 people found the following review helpful By modern life is rubbish on 20 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
After any great political or sociological phenomenon, the publishing industry's response tends to follow three distinct phases. Firstly, there are knee-jerk accounts of what happened by people who frankly don't have a clue. In the case of the credit crunch the worst include cash-in City memoires by assorted junior traders, and opportunistic accounts by novelists, political science academics and others who barely know their RAVs from their elbows. The second wave includes more considered accounts by more knowledgeable types. These typically take longer to get out because their authors are waiting for the dust to settle/have proper jobs. Here you tend to get books by senior City figures, intelligent financial journalists and so on. These, however, are still focused on describing and explaining what has just occurred, and perhaps offering suggestions for regulatory changes to make them less likely to occur again. Philip Augur's `Reckless' is a good example of this type. Finally, you get the books that put the events into their wider context and suggest some more radical solutions. These can be very variable indeed, ranging from the frankly nutty to the brilliant. `Economyths' is brilliant.

As it happens, I wasn't expecting a great deal from the book. David Orrell isn't an economist, he's an applied mathematician, and he hasn't, so far as I can tell, worked in the City. Books by outsiders, however talented, frequently miss the point, often because they are pushing a political agenda, or perhaps because they just `don't get it'. But I was pleasantly surprised from the first chapter, and by the end I was absolutely converted to his viewpoint. Indeed, is should carry a health warning - read this book and you will never be able to take the claims of classical economics seriously again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Davies on 5 Jun. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very informative and readable account of why things went wrong in 2008. A necessary account of an area of the news which is repeated frequently but rarely explained to the layman such as myself. It's not flawless but manages to entertain and asks the reader to pursue some of the loose ends.

Keep this book in mind when you watch similar accounts from the neo-classical economic view!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. N. Moffatt on 9 Nov. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It would be hard to imagine a book on economics written by a non-linear mathematician stirring the interest of many. I have personally found economics and books on the subject to be very dry and impersonal. But Economyths proved to be addictive reading, in part because the author was free from the shackles of a formal education in economics. Such an education continues to teach an idealised economics view of the world where the environment is an endless supply of resources and humans always act rationally.

Actually, the point repeatedly raised by Orrell is that classical economics presumes humans to be super-rational, making decisions based solely on monetary matters all the time. He rips apart the 'scientific' foundations of economics for what they are - inappropriately basing mass human behaviour on Newtonian mechanical principles.

This will delight those with an anti-establishment view - those uncomfortable with the profit and growth mantras. But for those steeped in the traditional or neo-classical viewpoints, this will be excruciating reading that would likely dismiss in order to quash feelings of cognitive dissonance.

Fabulous book, and a massive challenge to Universities the world over.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tariqmuda on 24 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book explains the relatively new science of economics as not a science in reality but as unpredictable as monkeys making bets in the money markets. The author does a fine job of explaining both ends of the economic approach with the markets clearly favouring the free-market approach as opposed to the other more controlled version. I mean who wouldn't? If I was a player in the money markets I would have loved to trade without any checks and balances. This book is written to change the perception of a serious marketplace but I suspect will not make a huge difference as money is money after all.
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