Thursday, April 21, 2005

I'm still no good a crosswrods

My wife told me that there was a clue in The Times (London) Cryptic Crossword for 20 April that even I should be able to solve: ’21 Down: Adam, economist and forger, 5 letters’.

In this limited context she was right. It had to be ‘Adam Smith’. But as someone who is hopeless at solving crossword puzzles, she has often told me that the only correct answers in puzzles, such as those in The Times (she regards most others as being ‘too easy’), are those that you can ‘justify twice’. Hence guessing is not an option for genuine puzzle servers.

I suggested that we know that Adam Smith was an economist, or rather he wrote about political economy – ‘economists’ had not yet been named as such in the 1770s – but a ‘forger’?

Perhaps, I opined, the allegations of Professor Salim Rashid, of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, were better known than I thought. Rashid has written several essays in refereed journals and a book (The Myth of Adam Smith, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, 1998) showing that Adam Smith was a serial ‘borrower’ from the works of contemporaries and near contemporaries, and that he frequently failed to give appropriate scholarly acknowledgements (at least by anything like the fastidious determination of modern academics). That could (loosely) make him a ‘forger’ …

Her look told me to stop showing off.

No, it had to be a simpler justification. The only other one was that a blacksmith worked in a forge to prepare horseshoes for horses. Correct. By extension, that made him a ‘forger’? She repeated a stiff 'correct' to my belated attempt at the necessary two justifications for answering ‘Smith’, but, she added, once again, that I remained ‘a lucky guesser without a hope of ever solving a full Times Cryptic’!


Blogger Kevin Brancato said...

I haven't read those articles, but will have to now.

Was it not true that at Smith's time that mathematicians would regularly incorporate entire chunks (if not "chapters" or sections) of other people's work into their own publications, expecting that readers would understand where the stuff came from originally?

At least, that's what I gathered from reading Games, Gods, and Gambling...

1:00 am  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Hi Kevin

Smith at one time commented that Dr Matthew Stewart (Dugald Stewart's father) and Dr Robert Simson (Adam and Matthew's maths tutor at Glasgow University) seemed totally relaxed that original mathematical theorems they had developed were used regularly by others without acknowledgement (The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759, page 124). This suggests he was aware of the habits of mathematicians to which you allude.

I discuss plagiarism in "Adam Smith's Lost Legacy" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) in the Appendix: "Smith's 1755 Paper").

9:27 pm  
Blogger Kevin Brancato said...

I can find no reference to the theft of original theorems on page 124 (III.2.20 and thereabouts) of TMS. That section is about public acclaim, or lack thereof...

Is there another section about plagarism?

2:08 pm  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Hi Kevin

Apologies,I should have checked the reference before quoting it. Page 124 is about Drs Stewart and Simmons and their indifference to the neglect of their original work by the public. This became confused with others using their works. Apologies for misleading you.

We know he was seemingly unconcerned about contemporaries who used his works in theirs (Blair, 1783; using Smith's lecture notes on rhetoric from his Edinburgh lectures, 1748-51) and Robertson, allegedly using Smith's jurisprudence lectures in volume 1 of his 'History of England', 1769).

Smith's reference to plagiarism is on p. 122, but not in the sense I suggested. The person unworthy of praise (though praised)"pretends to have done what he never did, to have written what he never wrote, to have invented what another discovered; and is led into all the miserable vices of plagiarism and common lying."

5:00 pm  
Blogger Kevin Brancato said...

Thanks, Gavin!

1:03 pm  

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