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Economyths: Ten Ways Economics Gets It Wrong

by David Orrell

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1032205,483 (3.64)1
This book is written from the perspective of the applied mathematician, David Orrell. He states that economics is a mathematical model of human behaviour and the economy is dangerously unstable and unbalanced, and the risk models are unreliable.--[From introduction]
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Economyths is written in equal parts flourish and frustration as the author frequently points out the ignorance of the main heroes of (what he calls) neoclassical economics theory while in turns celebrating their lofty aims, which he understands as ultimately wanting help relieve the world of inequity.

While he disparages orthodox economics as "ideology", the author's understanding of ideology seems weak and often merely rhetorical. In the end, he characterises economists as schizophrenics who, regarding themselves as detached from both the object of their study and even their own selves, have constructed grotesquely out-of-touch self-fulfilling models that only serve the interests of the few beneficiaries of financial markets.

Except for the strangely out-of-place tangent on Georg Cantor's proof of the uncountability of irrational numbers, the two chapters (5 & 6) "The Emotional Economy" and "The Gendered Economy" could stand as worth-while reads on their own. The book should be read for the author's creative insights in just these two parts, I think.

For me, the book felt educational (I am a humble engineer and philosophy student, after all — no applied mathematician), and it was definitely entertaining and engaging. I imagine any reader would be left with the impression that the author was exasperated with mainstream economics, but by the end, it becomes clear that this exasperation arises only because the author wants economics to move away from its misguided roots in deterministic, mechanistic social engineering and instead do a better job of modeling the messy network of human activities that comprise the global markets. ( )
  mavaddat | Jul 11, 2017 |
Very quick but convincing book that argues that all neo-liberal economics is a load of rubbish. I particularly liked the historical perspective on the fundamental tenets of economics - the desperate desire to make the discipline appear like physics is responsible for a lot of the false certainty and hubris of modern economics. The book does lose momentum towards the end, though is more a reflection of the glorious shoeing the author dishes out to economists in the first few chapters than anything else. The only chapter that didn't work was the one on gender, which was confused and confusing. ( )
  sunjata | Aug 5, 2011 |
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This book is written from the perspective of the applied mathematician, David Orrell. He states that economics is a mathematical model of human behaviour and the economy is dangerously unstable and unbalanced, and the risk models are unreliable.--[From introduction]

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