David Orrell

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David Orrell (left) speaking with Robert Matthews at the Art Center Global Dialogues, Barcelona, 2008

David John Orrell is a Canadian writer and mathematician. He received his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Oxford. His work in the prediction of complex systems such as the weather, genetics and the economy has been featured in New Scientist, the Financial Times, The Economist, Adbusters, BBC Radio, Russia-1, and CBC TV. He now conducts research and writes in the areas of systems biology and economics,[1] and runs a mathematical consultancy Systems Forecasting. He is the son of theatre historian and English professor John Orrell.

His books have been translated into over ten languages. Apollo's Arrow: The Science of Prediction and the Future of Everything was a national bestseller and finalist for the 2007 Canadian Science Writers' Award. Economyths: Ten Ways Economics Gets It Wrong was a finalist for the 2011 National Business Book Award.

Criticism of use of mathematical models[edit]

A consistent topic in Orrell’s work is the limitations of mathematical models, and the need to acknowledge these limitations if we are to understand the causes of forecast error. He argues for example that errors in weather prediction are caused primarily by model error, rather than the butterfly effect.[2] Economic models are seen as particularly unrealistic.[3] In Truth or Beauty: Science and the Quest for Order, he suggests that many such theories, along with areas of physics such as string theory, are motivated largely by the desire to conform with a traditional scientific aesthetic, that is currently being subverted by developments in complexity science.[4]

Quantum theory of money and value[edit]

Orrell is considered a leading proponent of quantum finance and quantum economics.[5] In The Evolution of Money[6] (coauthored with journalist Roman Chlupatý) and a series of articles[7][8][9] he proposed a quantum theory of money and value, which states that money has dualistic properties because it combines the properties of an owned and valued thing, with those of abstract number. The fact that these two sides of money are incompatible leads to its complex and often unpredictable behavior. In Quantum Economics: The New Science of Money he argued that these dualistic properties feed up to affect the economy as a whole.[10]


  • Orrell, David (2020). Quantum Economics and Finance: An Applied Mathematics Introduction. Panda Ohana. ISBN 978-1916081611.
  • Orrell, David (2018). Quantum Economics: The New Science of Money. Icon. ISBN 978-1785782299.
  • Orrell, David (2017). Economyths: 11 Ways Economics Gets It Wrong. Icon. ISBN 978-1848311480. Revised and extended edition of 2010 book.
  • Wilmott, Paul; Orrell, David (2017). The Money Formula: Dodgy Finance, Pseudo Science, and How Mathematicians Took Over the Markets. Wiley. ISBN 978-1119358619.
  • Orrell, David; Chlupatý, Roman (2016). The Evolution of Money. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231173728.
  • Orrell, David (2012). Truth or Beauty: Science and the Quest for Order. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300186611.
  • Sedlacek, Tomas; Orrell, David; Chlupatý, Roman (2012). Soumrak Homo Economicus. 65th Square. ISBN 978-8087506073.
  • Orrell, David; Van Loon, Borin (2011). Introducing Economics: A Graphic Guide. Icon. ISBN 978-1848312159.
  • Orrell, David (2010). Economyths: Ten Ways Economics Gets It Wrong. Icon. ISBN 978-1848311480.
  • Orrell, David (2008). The Other Side of the Coin: The Emerging Vision of Economics and Our Place in The World. Key Porter. ISBN 978-1552639818.
  • Orrell, David (2008). Gaia. Lulu.com. ISBN 978-1409255178.
  • Orrell, David (2007). Apollo's Arrow: The Science of Prediction and the Future of Everything. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0002007405. Published in the U.S. as The Future of Everything: The Science of Prediction.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  2. ^ Orrell, David; Smith, Leonard; Barkmeijer, Jan; Palmer, Tim (2001). "Model error in weather forecasting". Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics. 9 (6): 357–371. Bibcode:2001NPGeo...8..357O. doi:10.5194/npg-8-357-2001.
  3. ^ Orrell, David; McSharry, Patrick (2009). "System economics: Overcoming the pitfalls of forecasting models via a multidisciplinary approach". International Journal of Forecasting. 25 (4): 734–743. doi:10.1016/j.ijforecast.2009.05.002.
  4. ^ Shea, Christopher (29 January 2013). "Is Scientific Truth Always Beautiful?". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  5. ^ "Schrödinger's markets". The Economist. Nov 6, 2021.
  6. ^ Angel, James (2017). "The Evolution of Money. By David Orrell and Roman Chlupatý". Business History Review. 91 (2): 397–399. doi:10.1017/S0007680517000800. S2CID 158834606.
  7. ^ Orrell, David (2016). "A Quantum Theory of Money and Value". Economic Thought. 5 (2): 19–28.
  8. ^ Orrell, David (2017). "A Quantum Theory of Money and Value, Part 2: The Uncertainty Principle". Economic Thought. 6 (2): 14–26.
  9. ^ Orrell, David (2020). "The value of value: A quantum approach to economics, security and international relations". Security Dialogue. 51 (5): 482–498. doi:10.1177/0967010620901910. S2CID 213426733.
  10. ^ Clegg, Brian (5 July 2018). "Quantum Economics - David Orrell". Retrieved 5 July 2018.

External links[edit]