Paralogical thinking -- Albert Henderson Stephen Clark 19 Sep 2002 16:00 UTC

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 11:24:56 -0400
From: Albert Henderson <>
Subject: Paralogical thinking

on Thu, 19 Sep 2002 Jean-Claude <jean.claude.guedon@UMontreal.CA> opined:

 > You write:
 > "More to the point, I believe that if library spending
 > had kept pace with R&D -- as it did in the post-Sputnik
 > decade -- journal publishers would have invested in
 > making the literature more completely available than it
 > will ever be in the anarchy of researchers self-publishing
 > various versions of their work. They also would have been
 > able to invest in summaries, indexes, reviews, comments,
 > and other aids to researchers confronted with a chaotic
 > and unmanagable flood of information."
 > Would you care to tell me what your belief is baed on?

 > Big publishers have not seen their profits decrease, so far as I
know... So,
 > why have they not invested in all those wonderful tools you mention? To
 > punish those rebellious anarchists?

        No problem. Look at the record. Journal
        publishers created the review series
        titled variously as "Advances in ...,
        Progress in ...," and so on. "Annual
        Review of ..." was created and sold by a
        scholar turned entrepreneur during the Great
        Depression. Earl Coleman invented the
        Russian translation journals during the
        Cold War. The major indexes and abstracts
        that converted to electronic publishing in
        the 1960s found bitter opposition to normal
        coverage of the expanding literature by the
        academic library market; many curtailed their
        growth in order to keep prices "affordable."

        It has been the major publishers, Elsevier,
        Springer, American Chemical Society, etc.
        that have invested in technology that has
        often become obsolete.

        Clearly, if it were not for a hostile market,
        publishers would have expanded their coverage
        to keep up with the market. They would have
        invested in more innovations to Morover, the
        hostile market has discouraged new competitors
        from entering with innovative ideas and

 > Having recently heard Derk Hank's arrogant and triumphant exposé of
his most
 > recent business plan, I wonder where you place your faith, my
friend... But
 > perhaps you are one of those market fundamentalists that George Soros
 > criticizes in his latest book on globalization.

        How can you pillory publishers and then give
        us George Soros as a guru?

        How did George Soros make his money?

        Here's what the Philadelphia Inquirer said:

        "Soros, 71, earned both admiration and scorn
        through his hedge fund, the Quantum Fund,
        which earned 31 percent a year over its 32 years.
        He achieved the stunning gains mostly through
        speculating in foreign currencies - a risky game
        that can wreak economic havoc. In 1992, he earned
        $1 billion in a single day by betting - correctly
        - that the British pound would fall in value.

        "His critics say he profited unfairly because his
        predictions that currencies were overvalued led
        others to sell them, allowing him to reap big gains
        as well.

        "Remember the 1997 Asian economic crisis?

        "Some world leaders thought Soros' bets against the
        Thai baht caused it, though he does not agree."
        [April 9, 2002]

 > The point is that whatever faults lie with universities and their
 > administration, they in no way relieve the burden of guilt on the
 > publishers' side.

        There is no guilt associated with reasonable
        profits. Our society has been founded on
        capitalism. Better than any publisher, George
        Soros might better fit the description of

        On the other hand, the reason that university
        managers have failed to admit their part in the
        library crisis is that they are ashamed of
        promising excellence and delivering mediocrity.
        They should also be ashamed of the abuses of
        the truth in their anti-publisher propaganda

So, criticize universities in the ways they manage themselves. I may even
join you on that score; but do not use one side's flaws to cover for
side's profiteering. This is very simple logic, too simple perhaps...

        If you check the facts you must agree.

Albert Henderson