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Monday, December 05, 2005

Incredibly Bad Decisions About
Incredibly Successful Ideas
Here's an excellent collection of quotes from recognized experts who didn't quite 'get it.'

We've all heard some of these quotes, but there are some really good I wasn't familiar with. I thought I'd share the link with you.

Next time you're absolutely positive about something being a bad idea -- be certain to revisit this page before you put your decide on a firm "no." If not, your insistance on 'putting your foot down', is liable to make it wind up in your mouth.


Blogger Lawrence B. Ebert; said...

The first quote (Duell) is an urban legend. It never happened.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Don The Idea Guy; said...

It has been quoted enough to have been given life of its own, but you're right -- there is evidence enough to debate whether or not it was ever really said by Duell.

A better explanation of how this pseudo-quote may have come into play is postd at the link below.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

10:20 AM  
Blogger Lawrence B. Ebert; said...

Thanks for the reply.

Joseph Hosteny in the May 2005 issue of Intellectual Property Today had used the Duell quote. From IPBiz (May 27):
Hosteny also includes the purported remark of the Commissioner of Patents in 1899: Everything that can be invented has been invented. One might want to check that one out a bit. Further, it is useful to note a parallel remark by a famous physicist made prior to era of quantum mechanics [A. A. Michelson popularized the idea that physicists have nothing left to do but determine the physical constants to another decimal place, but attributed this idea to a mysterious "eminent physicist." Physics Today, 22, no. 1: 9 (January 1969); "Max Planck's physics teacher famously advised him to take up the piano, as there was nothing left to do in physics but fill out a few more decimal places."]
Now, as long as we don't have to contemplate Lemley's proposal that the inventors of the transistor (Bardeen, Brattain, Shockley) thought it was only good for hearing aids...

10:56 PM  
Blogger Lawrence B. Ebert; said...

One followup on your text: It has been quoted enough to have been given life of its own, but you're right -- there is evidence enough to debate whether or not it was ever really said by Duell.

one might hope that the burden would be on the proponents to provide evidence that Duell actually made the quote, rather than on the detractors to prove that he did not. As Lincoln noted in the debates, a man cannot prove a negative.

The transistor story is illustrative. One tracks back to interviews given by a Stanford University economics professor purporting to understand what the transistor inventors knew at the time of invention. There is reference in one interview to a 1947 article in the New York Times (no date, no page number) purporting to prove the "transistor only for hearing aids" statement, even though, in 1947, the word "transistor" had not yet been coined.
In law reviews, cite checkers only verify the presence of earlier text, not the accuracy thereof. Thus, one could assert that "the earth is flat" or "legal scholarship is a wasteland" merely by finding the appropriate earlier text.
As you point out, the Duell quote has "been given life of its own." That doesn't mean it is correct, anymore than the Roman chariot/train gauge or "transistor only for hearing aid" legends.

8:41 AM  

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