Stop the boiled frog madness, part 612 (NYT repeat-offender dept)

G. Paschal Zachary is a very good writer. The New York Times is a very good newspaper. Oxford U. is a very good university, and its comparatively-new Said Business School is presumably OK. But these worthies have joined forces to produce the latest high-profile example of boiled-frog idiocy.

From Zachary's tech column today, on the riskiness of innovation:

IPod “addiction” seems benign. Yet some worry that other innovations may harbor health threats. As a result, they may be vulnerable to what Marc Ventresca, a lecturer at the Saïd Business School at Oxford, calls the “frog boiling” problem. For the frog, gradually rising heat causes no alarm — until the water is so hot that death is imminent.


The boiled-frog metaphor seems benign. Yet some worry that it reveals not merely weakness for cliche but also amazing gullibility on the scientific front.

The real culprit here, of course, is the Said Business School professor. Although why Zachary would feel he had to attribute a bromide to an "authority" is interesting in itself. ("The predicament comes down to what Ludwig Wittgenstein, of Trinity College, Cambridge, called 'six of one, half-dozen of the other.' ") But the NYT falls into this trap again and again. It is time for the newspaper of record to get the record right!

(Thanks to Steve Corneliussen for early alert on this threat.)