David Orrell

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David Orrell speaking at TEDx event in Moscow, 2012.

David Orrell (born 1962 in Edmonton) is a Canadian mathematician and author who is living in Oxford, England. He received his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Oxford.

Sourced[edit]

The Other Side Of The Coin (2008)[edit]

  • Advanced technology is great at tasks such as keeping an airliner flying several thousand feet in the air, but is easily crippled by social complications.
    • Introduction, p. 13
  • The invisible hand is an emergent property of this system, which never reaches an optimal equilibrium, but instead is fundamentally dynamic and unstable, with complex effects on society.
    • Introduction, p. 19
  • Mathematics was not just about keeping track of were the moon was going, but also where the money was going.
    • Chapter 1, Limited Versus Unlimited, p. 30
  • There is something intrinsically upside down and counter-intuitive in the relationship between money and happiness.
    • Chapter 2, Odd Versus Even, p. 70
  • A society in which each person is hell bent on maximizing his or her own utility, may therefore have declining overall utility.
    • Chapter 2, Odd Versus Even, p. 75
  • If the aim of economics is really to provide the greatest happiness to the most people, than it is rather shocking to discover that economic growth has no net effect on happiness. So what has gone wrong with the neoclassical prospect?
    • Chapter 2, Odd Versus Even, p. 75
  • For even money itself has no value if there is no network of people to recognize it.
    • Chapter 3, One Versus Plurality, p. 88
  • Money, having freed itself from the physical universe, has become number itself, and finance a strange form of mathematical alchemy.
    • Chapter 3, One Versus Plurality, p. 89
Perfect order is boring, perfect randomness is boring, but complex systems are interesting.
  • The race to the moon was never really about the moon - its utility didn't rest in samples of moon rock. It was about capitalism versus communism, right versus left.
    • Chapter 4, Right Versus Left, p. 116
  • Perfect order is boring, perfect randomness is boring, but complex systems are interesting.
    • Chapter 4, Right Versus Left, p. 131
  • Adam Smith's invisible hand does exist, but as an emergent property of a complex system. It has a fuzzy tendency to reduce big price discrepancies, but it acts in a rather haphazard way.
    • Chapter 4, Right Versus Left, p. 135
  • Not only is Homo economicus self-centered, he is a murdering psychopath. However, as with much of neoclassical economic thought, there is an element of circularity here.
    • Chapter 5, Male Versus Female, p. 156
  • Economists often talk about the benefits of choice, but rational economic man doesn't actually have much freedom to chose, because he is a slave to his own preferences.
    • Chapter 5, Male Versus Female, p. 160
  • The strength of capitalism does not lie in the neoclassical idea of stability, but in its ability to unleash this creative energy. like a chaotic mathematical system, it is capable of producing surprise.
    • Chapter 6, At Rest Versus In Motion, p. 194
  • The market can quickly seize up. Prices don't adjust in a smooth continuous fashion, but instead abruptly reconfigure themselves, like the earth's crust during an earthquake.
    • Chapter 6, At Rest Versus In Motion, p. 195
  • It has become increasingly evident, at least among those who aren't currency traders or true believers in the optimality of free markets, that it would be nice if this system could calm down a touch. One option is the Tobin tax, which would impose a tax of around 0.1 percent on currency trades, and act as a kind of damper on speculation.
    • Chapter 6, At Rest Versus In Motion, p. 197
  • To build a genuinely sustainable economy, we need to recognize and embrace the dynamic nature of the world, and free ourselves from the dead holds of static dogma.
    • Chapter 6, At Rest Versus In Motion, p. 200
Orthodox tools based on a normal distribution therefore fail exactly where they are most needed, at the extremes.
  • Orthodox tools based on a normal distribution therefore fail exactly where they are most needed, at the extremes.
    • Chapter 7, Straight Versus Crooked, p. 223
  • The economy is crooked not straight; and mainstream economists are like flat-earthers who keep saying the world is flat despite all the evidence to the contrary.
    • Chapter 7, Straight Versus Crooked, p. 228
  • The economy is a nonlinear fractal system, where the smallest scales are linked to the largest, and the decisions of the central bank are affected by the gut instincts of the people on the street.
    • Chapter 7, Straight Versus Crooked, p. 229
  • It can be annoying to find out the name of a famous local landmark has no significance other than belonging to some distant relation or drinking buddy of the explorer.
    • Chapter 8, Light Versus Darkness, 237
  • The neoclassical dogma of diminishing returns is completely wrong - success begets success and wealth begets wealth.
    • Chapter 9, Square Versus Oblong, p. 275
The market can quickly seize up. Prices don't adjust in a smooth continuous fashion, but instead abruptly reconfigure themselves, like the earth's crust during an earthquake.
  • The idea that money begets money, and that the rich and powerful enjoy unfair advantages, goes against what we are taught - or like to believe - about the capitalist system.
    • Chapter 9, Square Versus Oblong, p. 280
  • The entire thrust of neoclassical thought is to argue that the free market economy is an efficient system that will optimize utility for all mankind, if only government will get out of the way. It therefore departs from classical economists such as Adam Smith, who recognized the importance of governments for regulating markets and preventing monopolies.
    • Chapter 9, Square Versus Oblong, p. 284
  • The real reason for the longevity of the neoclassical model have less to do with science, and more to do with the social dynamics of the universities that propagate it, and its appeal to a particular mindset.
    • Chapter 10, Good Versus Evil, p. 304
  • To balance the economy, we need first to balance our priorities, and abandon rigid ideologies.
    • Chapter 10, Good Versus Evil, p. 313


External links[edit]

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