Dr. Verne Atrill lights his pipe with his seventeenth match in two hours, and pauses to stare intensely. It is at this point that his listener begins to feel the despair that has claimed all previous explorers of Dr. Atrill’s “new science of economics,” from the audience at his lectures last October (sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Public Opinion) to a variety of economists and literary intellectuals who have fallen into his grasp. He is obviously saying something highly intelligent. His discussion of the precise literary antecedents for the Physiocrats’ concept of circulation in the economy is in itself a feat of intellectual gymnastics worthy of his PhD from the London School of Economics. But the final effect is to leave utter and hopeless confusion as to what he actually said.
Atrill, a former Queen’s University professor and market research consultant currently associated with the Canadian Gallup poll, has actually worked out what he claims is effectively a new theory of knowledge that will ultimately have implications for physics, biology and semantics as well as economics. A fantastic oversimplification would be that he is returning to the concept of entities like laws or numbers possessing an independent reality. Treating them mathematically, he believes it is possible to make predictions including stock market forecasts. But there’s a catch. Atrill will not actually predict the stock market. He will merely point the way for others to do so “if they care to do the work.” PETER BRIMELOW
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