Thursday, July 14, 2005

Idiocy of the Week?

In today’s Tech Central Station (‘where free markets meet technology’) a piece by Jon Haber that is a shoe-in for the “Idiocy of the Week” (a weekly “award” for the most idiotic misapplication of Adam Smith’s name to which some author has resorted).

The article is entitled “Time Travel” by Jon Haber, who “has worked as a film writer for the Boston Globe and movie reviewer at WBUR in Boston. He now runs SkillCheck, Inc., a software publisher in Burlington Massachusetts, and occasionally finds time to write about the intersection of politics, film and culture.”

On its own merits the article is interesting and well written. His "hook" is showing his 6 year-old an old film about Time Travel and four young boys from New York. Jon Haber is obviously well informed on the minutia of the origins of obscure films that have there own merits from around the world. After recounting the derivation of several films for US genres following the opening up of Eastern European and Russian film archives, he arrives at Adam Smith (who else?). Habor’s piece on film editing is supposed to be meeting “free markets” and he does what many US journalists often do, drags in Adam Smith to give his piece unnecessary “street credibility”, presumably among readers who also know a little about Adam Smith:

‘Thus does the "invisible hand" work its will on culture as it does in commerce in ways Adam Smith would have never imagined (although his kids might have enjoyed).’

Haber manages to misunderstand Adam Smith’s reference to the “invisible hand” (which was about human motivations, not commerce or markets, i.e., the “law” of unintended consequences, for good or ill) and reveals that he did not know that Adam Smith was a bachelor and did not have any children (he probably had nephews and nieces among his cousins, uncles and aunts).

Anyway, unless a worse idiocy arrives by Saturday, Jon Haber wins this week’s “award”.


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