Friday, February 27, 2009

Inconsistent Blurbers

As a separate issue, I noted Bhide's book has a blurb by uber-blurber Lawrence Summers:
Bhidé provides a fresh and reassuring perspective on America’s technological position in an increasingly global economy. Anyone interested in our economic future and especially our technology policies should read this book.
~Larry Summers
In Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction, Thomas K. McCraw quotes Larry Summers saying that 'if Keynes was the most important economist of the 20th century, then Schumpeter may well be the most important of the 21st.' I don't see how both views can be considered so important. Emphasis is everything, and they point in very different directions.

You can admire works that are directly in contrast because they make good cases for their contradictory points. You might appreciate Barro and Krugman's take on the stimulus package because they are clear expositions of conflicting arguments. Yet that interpretation is probably too generous for your average conflicting blurb (as when Peter Bernstein, author of hagiographies of the founders of the Modern Portfolio Theory, writes a blurb for Taleb's Black Swan, which argues such ideas are worse than useless). A lot of public praise seems to reflect Oscar Wilde's observation that 'One can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing'.

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