Let me preface this by saying that I have absolutely no problem with mocking Harvard. It's my default.
That said, not every story of ivy-league idiocy is true. Case in point: I'm now pretty sure that no Harvard Business School professor has claimed that Twitter wrecked the economy.
I first spotted this rumor over at the Death by Email blog (highly recommended, by the way, despite this particular instance). The blog, linking to facebook postings, quotes Harvard Business School Professor Martin Schmeldon as follows:
"We see the rapid rise of Twitter usage in 2008 correlating very strongly with a tremendous decrease in American productivity," said Schmeldon. "Our regression analysis on the data suggests a causal relationship that may actually be larger than the impact of the much-touted subprime collateral debt refinancing triggers."
The blog also repeats the graph produced by "Prof. Scheldon":
Strange, I thought. This almost sounds like a satirical riff on the (seanbonner.com/blog/archives/001857.php) well-known connection between pirates and global warming. Is this for real?
I Googled. Several other blogs seemed to treat the story as true — though a few commenters raised questions. Further search revealed that there is no such professor at Harvard Business School, and a Google of Prof. Scheldon's name turned up nothing but this "story."
I prefer to believe that I am the idiot here — that these blogs (and particularly Death by Email, which I really like) are simply playing the joke very straight, and I'm blundering in and ruining it. The alternative is too grim to contemplate.
Edit: Death by Email confirms that I am the idiot to even suspect that they are the idiot. (I should have read the end of their post a little less quickly.) Which, at least, makes me a different type of idiot than the ones who will take this at face value. Betcha this will get reported as true in multiple places.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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