Skip

Plagiarism and Vice
December 1, 2005 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Plagiarism it's just about the most wrong thing you're told not to do in college. It seems even more wrong when one of your professors does it, but it certainly does drive up prices.
posted by nile_red (63 comments total)

 
This is a very interesting (and sad) situation that I've been following with some interest. As mentioned in the New York Press article, storySouth had two recent essays (1, 2) arguing that this wasn't plagiarism at all, but homage.

The examples from the New York Press article seem hard to argue with, though.
posted by BackwardsCity at 11:52 AM on December 1, 2005


I think that outright plagiarism is clearly a bad thing, however with the evolution of the internet it seems clear that "standing on the shoulders of giants" is a growing phenomenon. I suppose that's why they don't call it plagiarism when its referenced, but it has seemed to me for a while now that academia is poised for a shake up.

for instance, i personally place a lot more value in my ability to find a diagram of the bones in a cat, than my ability to remember all of the bones by name. Biology teachers might disagree, but that seems to be the reference equivalent of a stodgy professor forcing you to rock a slide rule instead of a calculator in the 70's.
posted by sourbrew at 11:58 AM on December 1, 2005


Well, with the naming all the bones of a cat, if you're working with cats and their bones all the time then you'll remember what they're called and be able to communicate what you mean to other people who also work with the bones of cats.

I've never been a fan of rote-learning in schools (primary, secondary, undergrad, post-grad).

As for outright plagiarism - definitely a no-no. It's someone elses work and it's just plain wrong to present it as if it was your own.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 12:02 PM on December 1, 2005


I suppose that's why they don't call it plagiarism when its referenced

You reference ideas. You quote text.
posted by Elpoca at 12:06 PM on December 1, 2005


I briefly read the two articles cited and I'm sympathetic to Brad Vice. I'm a fan of Allan Hollinghurst, and his novel The Folding Star is very much a recasting of Bruges le Mort and Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir has, so far, been a retelling of Chandler's Big Sleep and High Window. I would say I'm not a huge fan of this trend, and feel let down when I find it obvious, but I think it is a legit trend.
posted by Seth_Messinger at 12:08 PM on December 1, 2005


I haven't read the stories, but it seems like it would be an artistically valid effort to interweave passages from a well-known work into a longer original work. You'd have to make it crystal clear that you're doing it, though. And, artistically valid or not, you'd probably still wind up on the wrong side of copyright law....
posted by mr_roboto at 12:09 PM on December 1, 2005


Backwards City:

"As mentioned in the New York Press article, storySouth had two recent essays arguing that this wasn't plagiarism at all, but homage."

That's just a load of crap, though, since homage doesn't mean lifting entire sentences from someone else's work and claiming them as your own. Particularly if you don't actually acknowlege it at the time and then float the "homage" excuse later after you've been caught plagiarizing.
posted by jscalzi at 12:13 PM on December 1, 2005


equivalent of a stodgy professor forcing you to rock a slide rule instead of a calculator in the 70's.

Who could afford a calculator in the 70's?

HP electronic calculator, Model 9815A 1975 $2900 MSRP

Sanyo minielectronic calculator, Model ICC-82D c.1973 $999 MSRP

maybe the late seventies.
posted by Megafly at 12:13 PM on December 1, 2005


Megafly.... im an early 80's baby... i was just taking a stab at the possible time period for the decline of slide rules... i guess that those prices put it somewhere in the early 80's as aposed to the late 70's.
posted by sourbrew at 12:18 PM on December 1, 2005


Homage? Homage? Sickening. There's nothing artistic or creative about stealing someone else's work and using it in your own when you can't come up with your own way to express something.
posted by schroedinger at 12:28 PM on December 1, 2005


Anybody remember when someone plagiarized Martin Amis' "The Rachel Papers" and then Amis called him out on it in The New York Times?

If it weren't for those damned fees to retrieve archived articles, I'd link to it...
posted by billysumday at 12:30 PM on December 1, 2005


I briefly read the two articles cited and I'm sympathetic to Brad Vice.
posted by Seth_Messinger at 12:08 PM PST on December 1


I haven't read the stories, but it seems like it would be an artistically valid effort to interweave passages from a well-known work into a longer original work.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:09 PM PST on December 1


No. David Foster Wallace, in his 1989 story "Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way" appropriates, or "samples," if you will, the first few lines of Cynthia Ozick's story "Ursupation." Wallace credits Ozick in the colophon.

Public Enemy:Vanilla Ice::David Foster Wallace:Brad Vice

He's a fucking thief, and a talentless one: not only is his theft obvious, he manages to fuck up the original author's much-better prose. I hope he never publishes again.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:30 PM on December 1, 2005


This has nothing to do with new technology and everything to do with misrepresentation and hypocrisy. So you steal cars with a laser ignition gizmo and repaint them with a newfangled robotic spray gun--should the judge be more sympathetic?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:31 PM on December 1, 2005


"standing on the shoulders of giants"

Ah, memories of Blair Hornstine and her excuse for plagiarizing:
"'If I see further,' wrote scientist Isaac Newton to his colleague Robert Hooke, 'it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.' ... I am not a professional journalist. I was a 17-year-old with no experience in writing newspaper articles. Upon reflection, I am now cognizant that proper citation allows scholars of the future to constantly reevaluate and reexamine academic works....If Newton's pronouncement is to remain true, proper citations are essential."
posted by ericb at 12:32 PM on December 1, 2005


No. David Foster Wallace, in his 1989 story "Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way" appropriates, or "samples," if you will, the first few lines of Cynthia Ozick's story "Ursupation." Wallace credits Ozick in the colophon.

Well, if you had bothered to read my next sentence, you would have seen that I agree with you. To repeat myself, for this technique to be valid, the author would have to be absolutely upfront and unambiguous about doing it. Vice should have made what he was doing crystal clear. That he didn't at the very least discuss it with his editor is really disturbing.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:35 PM on December 1, 2005


sourbrew: What on earth are you talking about? Not only did this guy lift passages wholesale, but he's a English professor. He even plagiarized the first paragraph of the story.

If he wanted to 'pay homage' then he should have made it clear what passages were lifted and which ones were original.

That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with "literary sampling" as a form of artistic expression, but if you're employed by academia then you'll want to be vary clear about what you're doing. Vice probably would be able to keep publishing his work under the fair-use doctrine, but plagiarism isn't a crime, it's a violation of academic standards, and all you have to do is add references and footnotes.
posted by delmoi at 12:37 PM on December 1, 2005


I didn't mean to paint you with the same brush as the sympathizers, roboto. I have no idea why I c/p'd you there.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:38 PM on December 1, 2005


Well, sorry about sounding grouchy about it.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:39 PM on December 1, 2005


Oh, also: I don't personally think there's anything wrong with "literary sampling" as a new form of expression, but if you're employed by academia then you'll want to be quite clear about what you're doing. Vice probably would be able to keep publishing under the fair-use doctrine, but plagiarism isn't a crime; rather, it's a violation of academic standards, and all you have to do is add footnotes and references.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:40 PM on December 1, 2005


Plagiarism it's just about the most wrong thing you're told not to do in college. It seems even more wrong when one of your professors does it, but it certainly does drive up prices.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:42 PM on December 1, 2005


Actually I don't think the stuff he "stole" from dent is as flagrant, and might pass a university review bored. I wonder if he simply forgot to change some of the passages? I don't consider it plagiarism to conveying the same idea, although it certainly is lame
posted by delmoi at 12:45 PM on December 1, 2005


Homages and retellings are one thing. They're as old as literature itself and practically unavoidable. The Aeneid owes a lot to the Odyssey. Take a side-by-side look at Genesis and the Enuma Elish sometime. Atwood's Penelopiad, Winterson's Weight, Yourcenar's Fires, et cetera. But retelling a story and stealing large chunks of text (even with some superficial rearrangement) are not the same thing at all. An English professor -- any English professor (hell, any high-school student) definitely knows better.
posted by alsorises at 12:48 PM on December 1, 2005


The people defending this guy are fucking insane. They're the same people who still think Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus had something to say, the same people who drove me away from the study of literature. Fuck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:58 PM on December 1, 2005




hey... delmoi... uhh... if you read what i wrote... such as

"I think that outright plagiarism is clearly a bad thing"

or

"I suppose that's why they don't call it plagiarism when its referenced"

then perhaps it might seem plausible that i was agreeing that this guy is an asshat but suggesting that the standards of plagiarism are clearly changing as more and more content becomes available online... for instance most web junkies would consider an inline link in the first portion of a quote as a suitable reference... somehow i think the mla would disagree though.
posted by sourbrew at 1:05 PM on December 1, 2005


You know what? Plagiarism is just about the most wrong thing you're told not to do in college. And you know what else? It seems even more wrong when one of your professors does it.

But it certainly does drive up prices.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:08 PM on December 1, 2005


As a sometime writer, and a onetime editorial board member of a literary magazine, this is pretty serious. Probably my favorite author is Nabokov, and -- especially in his later American novels such as Lolita, Pnin, and the glorious gem that is Pale Fire -- he freely engages in "literary sampling". But he isn't plagiarizing, because he is evoking the originals, or using them ironically, or creating literary jokes. He didn't formally credit his sources: in those days the expectation was that these were either obvious to the learned student (sometimes there are nearby clues), or easter eggs for the serious scholar to discover someday.

With Vice, though, it's abundantly clear that he was merely borrowing -- looting, really, no homage intended. Nabokov didn't write an entire story that lifted key passages from another, with the same essential characters and the same essential emotional notes.

I'm really in the "What was he thinking?" camp here, because I can't imagine he really expected to get away with this forever. What if Cramer got "rediscovered"? As in fact seems to have happened. You can imagine the sweat as he reads of the new edition.

with the evolution of the internet it seems clear that "standing on the shoulders of giants" is a growing phenomenon

Frankly, I'm a little saddened by the thought, but I wonder if the reverse isn't true -- that it's only the internet that has allowed this to become obvious. Human nature being what it has been throughout history, it's likely this sort of thing was rampant before. Indeed, at one time it was common for writers to completely rip each other off -- Shakespeare's plays often derive directly from single contemporary sources. No doubt before the internet journalists rewrote the stories in the larger papers all the time without reproof. And before the current literary prize structure evolved there was plenty of pulp and magazine writing, now forgotten, that had few compunctions about outright theft at a penny or two a word. And before Joe Biden's '88 campaign, nobody cared much whether a stump speech ripped off another politician.

Vice is simply unlucky to live, and pursue a career, at a time when this is considered a cardinal sin. That's no absolution, of course. But I wouldn't make the mistake of thinking that literary morality has been in some notable decline, with all the wastrels and social climbers who've found places in the pantheon.

I will say that the NY Press article peters out at the end, as it tries to spread the blame to the logrolling Southern writing scene. My observations suggest it's not regionally unique, and I don't think that these people -- almost doubtless ignorant of Vice's vice -- were deliberately covering for him, even if they exhibit self-interest in promoting his success. It's just piling on. If the writer had had a deeper point, perhaps, about how plagiarism and the dishonesty of the writing community interact, but he didn't get that far.
posted by dhartung at 1:22 PM on December 1, 2005


Although he later told the same paper that he was denying any "allegations of misconduct," he admitted to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, "I only wish that I could make amends." He told the Chronicle of Higher Education, "I made a terrible error in judgment.… I was foolish and naïve.… I intended my story to be homage to Carmer." He told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, "I am sorry I was ignorant of the principles of fair use at the time and honestly I'm still very confused about it."

"I... I didn't realize the money was the bank's when I walked out with it... I thought maybe it was just lying there, you know?... It was a terrible error in judgment, and I wish I could make amends... I just... I'm very confused."

Why do plagiarists always sound so much stupider than other criminals? Especially considering they tend to be so much better educated. Anyway, I'm going to have to go with Optimus Chyme's take on this, and join in a hearty chorus of "The people defending this guy are fucking insane."
posted by languagehat at 1:34 PM on December 1, 2005


To add to billysumday's link, here's the article that appeared in the NYT prior to the apology article: NEW NOVELIST IS CALLED A PLAGIARIST
posted by slow, man at 1:53 PM on December 1, 2005


Why do plagiarists always sound so much stupider than other criminals? Especially considering they tend to be so much better educated. Anyway, I'm going to have to go with Optimus Chyme's take on this, and join in a hearty chorus of "The people defending this guy are fucking insane."

Well, I would hardly call plagiarists criminals. At least not in any concrete sense. There is no law against plagiarism and copyright violation is a tort, not a crime, and even then this 'sampling' might fall under fair use. Still, as an academic, he should have not have done what he did, and should have known better.

I suspect the 'stupidity' factor comes into play because the evidence is simply so damning. Stupidity is the only excuse available.
posted by delmoi at 2:09 PM on December 1, 2005


Double post.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:11 PM on December 1, 2005


dhartung: Frankly, I'm a little saddened by the thought, but I wonder if the reverse isn't true -- that it's only the internet that has allowed this to become obvious. Human nature being what it has been throughout history, it's likely this sort of thing was rampant before. Indeed, at one time it was common for writers to completely rip each other off -- Shakespeare's plays often derive directly from single contemporary sources.

This is a really interesting issue. I know that in the field of early modern literary studies, it was assumed for a long time that the 'crime' of plagiarism was a result of copyright legislation -- that there was no real conception of 'literary property' until (at least) the very end of the eighteenth century. (The old Foucauldian thing -- there couldn't be a criminal until the crime was instituted.)

But really, if you go back and look at the earlier centuries, there was always (at least from the sixteenth century on) something like a conception of plagiarism, and it was looked on as (at least) a serious breach of literary etiquette. There were 17th- and 18th-cent. antiquarians who devoted their lives to going through past literature, laying out the sources older authors had used, and they weren't afraid to level the charge of plagiarism if they thought it was warranted. (Although authors with existing reputations, like Shakespeare, were usually exempted.)

And definitely, when these same guys were dealing with contemporary authors, the plagiarism charge could be a deliberate and cynical ploy to end a literary career and pursue a vendetta. Paulina Kewes wrote a book on the subject ...
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:18 PM on December 1, 2005


If you’re employed by academia, and I don't personally think there's anything wrong with "literary sampling" as a new form of expression, you'll want to be quite clear about what you're doing. Vice probably would be able to keep publishing under the fair-use doctrine. Plagiarism isn't a crime; rather, it's a violation of academic standards, all you have to do is add footnotes and references.

Plagiarism in no way lessens the scope of thought that is the objective of communication (fiction or otherwise). It in fact enhances it by repeating and harkening back to former concepts. With the evolution of the internet it seems clear that "standing on the shoulders of giants" is a growing phenomenon. Some of those giants had brilliant concepts. Therefore it would seem an artistically valid effort to interweave passages from a well-known work into a longer original work.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:25 PM on December 1, 2005


Frankly, I'm a little saddened by the thought, but I wonder if the reverse isn't true -- that it's only the internet that has allowed this to become obvious. Human nature being what it has been throughout history, it's likely this sort of thing was rampant before.

Part of it has to do with changing attitudes to tradition--see Paulina Kewes' introduction (PDF) to a recent essay collection--and, surely, part of it has to do with our rapidly expanding ability to identify it. In nineteenth-century literature, plagiarism seems to be virtually par for the course once one gets into the ranks of third-rate authors (and lower): the novelist Rhoda Broughton makes off with a passage from George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss, hack writers put out cheap knockoffs of Charles Dickens, and evangelicals steal from John Foxe's Book of Martyrs. For that matter, as several critics have noted, ch. 11 of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is, to all intents and purposes, J.-K. Huysmans' A Rebours (although Wilde probably expected his readers to pick that up).

I think that most critics would argue that "appropriation" or "revision" implies that the author critically engages with (and possibly distances himself from) the original work, even if the new work is an act of "homage." Nobody, for example, would claim that Peter Carey's Jack Maggs and My Life as a Fake, Louis Bayard's Mr. Timothy, or Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres plagiarized their respective originals (Great Expectations, Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol, King Lear).
posted by thomas j wise at 2:37 PM on December 1, 2005


Never trust a redneck.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 2:38 PM on December 1, 2005


Smedleyman:

"Plagiarism in no way lessens the scope of thought that is the objective of communication (fiction or otherwise). It in fact enhances it by repeating and harkening back to former concepts."

That's idiotic. Plagiarism degrades communication by leaving unclear the lines of communication and the development of thought. What you've got is a jerk at the front of the line saying "These are my words and thoughts" when in fact they're not, and he doesn't offer provenance until it's pried out of him. It's not standing on the shoulders of giants, it's braining the giants with a shovel, digging a hasty grave and hoping no one notices you standing on a pile of cemetary dirt.

Playing the changes on the ideas and words of others is one thing. Ripping them off and waiting until other people point it out to come clean (and then trying to excuse your plagiarism why claiming to be ignorant of fair use when you are a professor of English) is quite another. Let's not confuse the two.
posted by jscalzi at 2:47 PM on December 1, 2005


Should a charge of plagiarism ruin your life? Fascinating New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell.
posted by jcruelty at 3:08 PM on December 1, 2005


At a time when so much full text is available online, I really wonder whether Vice did expect to get away with this.
posted by 327.ca at 3:24 PM on December 1, 2005


What's really notable to me is how much worse Vice has made the passages he stole. Tuscaloosa Nights seems like a fine piece of writing, but Vice has turned it into hackwork with just a few synonyms clearly grabbed at random from a thesaurus, and some tonedeaf rearrangement. Embarassing on so many levels.
posted by Simon! at 3:25 PM on December 1, 2005


I briefly read the two articles cited and I'm sympathetic to Brad Vice. I'm a fan of Allan Hollinghurst, and his novel The Folding Star is very much a recasting of Bruges le Mort and Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir has, so far, been a retelling of Chandler's Big Sleep and High Window. I would say I'm not a huge fan of this trend, and feel let down when I find it obvious, but I think it is a legit trend.

I can't speak about Berlin Noir, but The Folding Star is also a rewriting of Charlotte Bronte's Villette. That's "rewriting" in the sense of a dense textual or thematic engagement with the original in a way that is available for anyone in the know (i.e. anyone conversant with the canon of English literature) and which does not compromise the originality of Hollinghurt's novel. There's a really big difference between gesturing openly to literary predecessors and copying word for word from an unattributed (and more or less forgotten) text. dhartung is right: Vice must have been waking up in a cold sweat at night over the reissue of the books he had stolen from. I'm of the How on earth did he think he was going to get away with it? camp.

Also worth noting: in the examples in the article, he managed in every case to make the writing worse. That takes a certain kind of anti-talent, I think.
posted by jokeefe at 3:26 PM on December 1, 2005


Ah, Simon, snap. As they say.
posted by jokeefe at 3:27 PM on December 1, 2005


And that's HollinghurSt.
posted by jokeefe at 3:28 PM on December 1, 2005


From storySouth:

Vice based his short story on a chapter in the book called “Tuscaloosa Nights" (and in particular a four-page section of that chapter called "The Flaming Cross," which describes a 1930s Ku Klux Klan rally in Tuscaloosa, Alabama). Vice’s story runs about twenty pages and closely follows some of Carmer’s dialogue and description (while using different characters and situations). Vice is quoted as saying that he used some of Carmer’s dialog because, “As a nonfiction resource, the dialogue had a truth value outside of Carmer’s text."

Unfortunately for Vice, he forgot to acknowledge that the story borrowed material from Carmer’s classic book.


Oh, come on.
posted by jokeefe at 3:30 PM on December 1, 2005


I wrote Metamorphosis and The Trail, maybe you've heard of them? Email me for a free electronic copy.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:42 PM on December 1, 2005


"Beneath the tall elms on Queen City avenue rode three horsemen robed in white." becomes "Underneath the towering elms, three horsemen robed in white rode down the middle of Queen City Avenue." How freaking lazy can you get? If he really could not come up with his own imagery, it would have been easy enough to disguise his "inspiration."

White sheets billowing, horse hooves clopping, the three rode resolutely down the middle of James street.

Ok so maybe I will never win the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, but I'm just amazed he didn't even bother to change the name of the street.

Calculator prices in the 70's: I had one in high school, a Texas Instruments, and since I graduated in 75 that means they were around $100.00 or so in 1973/4. $150.00 tops.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:57 PM on December 1, 2005


Calculator prices in the 70's: I had one in high school, a Texas Instruments, and since I graduated in 75 that means they were around $100.00 or so in 1973/4. $150.00 tops.
Those would have been basic function ones. Scientific calculators that could replace a sliderule cost bank up until the late 70's silicon revolution
posted by Megafly at 4:20 PM on December 1, 2005


I'm just amazed he didn't even bother to change the name of the street.

Or his own name. The headline writer in me is drooling.

Calculator prices: I swear I recall a Scientific American from the early sixties with an ad for a very early HP calculator, and another ad for a Porche 911. They were each about $4500. Can anyone corroborate?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:27 PM on December 1, 2005


A guy I knew in high school plagiarized a short story that won a prize from our English department. I was apparently the only person who had read the original, and I confronted him about it. He begged me to keep quiet and I did-- he was worried about his acceptance to an Ivy League University, and what would happen if he was busted even after being accepted.

So, I kept quiet. He went on to the Ivy League, then to an Ivy League Law School, and is now a big time Lawyer in a big firm, after having clerked for a major Judge.

I wonder where he would be if I hadn't kept his secret? Plagiarism is something which seems to often affect the over-achieving and not just the lazy.
posted by cell divide at 4:31 PM on December 1, 2005


No doubt before the internet journalists rewrote the stories in the larger papers all the time without reproof.

I wrote my undergraduate thesis using materials from about a dozen English newspapers and four American ones, circa 1775 and 1780. I scanned through them, looking for stories on two specific men. And I discovered that back then, they didn't just rewrite stories from each other, they just out and out copied them.

You'd see one story appear in a London paper, maybe the official London Gazeete or the fairly high quality London Evening Standard, only to see the same story, word for word, appear in several other London papers in their next edition, then in papers from other English cities in a few days to a week, then in the American papers about three months later. Or going the other way across the Atlantic. Sometimes they credited their source, sometimes they didn't. But you could map the exact travelling times, just by the stories. With few professional reporters (if any?), printers had to do what they could to keep up content levels. They would take letters verbatim esp from men at the front of the war (I read Benedict Arnold's being quoted, but they took out the bits where he asks after his sister's health), reports from other countries, sections of the Gazette (which was essentially a government press release) - whatever.
posted by jb at 4:55 PM on December 1, 2005


I wonder where he would be if I hadn't kept his secret? Plagiarism is something which seems to often affect the over-achieving and not just the lazy.
posted by cell divide at 4:31 PM PST on December 1 [!]


cd - your story worries me more. Did he learn why plagiarism was wrong, or just that he could get away with it? Did he plagiarise at university?

I have felt myself the great temptation - 3am, staring at the computer screen, the stress making me sick to my stomach, thinking "what if? Does essays.com have any 30 page discussions of the current state of research on social and economic change in seventeenth century England?" But I didn't. I finished that crappy paper, and felt sick for two days after for the lack of sleep.

Maybe that's what university is really suposed to teach you. Me, I just got addicted to metafilter instead.
posted by jb at 5:00 PM on December 1, 2005


"Tuscaloosa Knights" and "Report from Junction"— complete with their plagiarized contents— both appear in the dissertation that Vice produced for his doctoral degree at the University of Cincinnati in 2001.

So his PhD might be toast, too. I almost feel sorry for him, but he's been fantastically stupid, and should have realized the consequences of what he was up to. All those publishing credits would have played a large part in being hired into a faculty position... he's lied on his CV, basically. I'll be very surprised if he's not fired; his future in the academy is pretty much non-existent. Plagiarism's a career ender.
posted by jokeefe at 5:43 PM on December 1, 2005


So, I kept quiet. He went on to the Ivy League, then to an Ivy League Law School, and is now a big time Lawyer in a big firm, after having clerked for a major Judge.

I wonder where he would be if I hadn't kept his secret? Plagiarism is something which seems to often affect the over-achieving and not just the lazy.
posted by cell divide at 4:31 PM PST on December 1


What's his name?

Also, they're not over-acheivers. They're assholes and con artists who steal the work of others and use it to further their own goals. Folks, your asshole boss probably plagiarized his way through college, and his promotions will mostly come from work that you did.

Plagiarists are bottom-feeding scum, big fat fucking ticks engorged not on blood but the sweat and toil of other, more capable men. Plagiarism should be a career ender only because we're not allowed to encourage them to commit suicide, which, by the way, they should.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:02 PM on December 1, 2005


I got 'caught' for plagiarism once, but I hadn't plagiarised. I was reading up on my research topic and found a paper that used a good quote from a book, and I grabbed the quote, referenced the book, and ignored the paper I grabbed it from because it was arguing a different point than mine. I got nailed because when I grabbed the quote I didn't double check it, our school copies were re-issues and the page number in the reference was wrong. It took weeks and me hunting down the paper I'd grabbed the quote from to prove I wasn't stealing...and this was before 'my google search history'.
posted by nile_red at 6:41 PM on December 1, 2005


Who Owns An Idea, from the Boston Globe.

Interesting tangent.
posted by Cassford at 8:35 PM on December 1, 2005


UK readers may not have spotted that media junkie and academic Raj Persaud has also recently been accused of ripping off Stanley Milgram.
posted by biffa at 4:21 AM on December 2, 2005


You mean Thomas Blass, biffa.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:09 AM on December 2, 2005


You're totally right Optimus, good job paying too little attention to references isn't as serious as paying too much.
posted by biffa at 8:20 AM on December 2, 2005


jscalzi :Let's not confuse the point.
Playing the changes on the ideas and words of others is one thing.
Plagiarism as a communication leaves clear lines of communication and development of thought.

Ah, well, no one picked up on my double post thing. Figures, too simple.
Be too arch though and you’re misunderstood. I wonder what the cost/benefit is to raw creativity or engagement on the metalevel. If it’s too slick, you’re misunderstood. If it’s too simple, people think you’re an idiot. And of course that doesn’t take into account whether you’re actually being amusing. You can amuse yourself of course, but I could stay at home all day amusing myself. Anyone amused by what I did upthread?
I mean I copied Optimus Chyme who copied delmoi; if someone else had done it before me I wouldn’t have (rule of threes), and incorporated it into an ironic riff on communication. Which, justifiably in content, pissed off jscalzi. It’s easy to miss the form there if you don’t read carefully so no foul. And I mean someone had to fall for it to make the point (which jscalzi stated perfectly, while falling for it: “Plagiarism degrades communication by leaving unclear the lines of communication and the development of thought”). Which leads me to wonder if jscalzi was just playing along as the straight man.
Hmmm....

Anyway, it should show that reiteration of content often causes distortion in communication and feedback. At least partly because that initial thought is not rooted in the generator’s conceptual ground - if that makes sense - so there is a lot of opportunity for misunderstanding.
Even a restatement you have to understand - grok one might say - and generate whole as opposed to simple reiteration which can cause myriad problems - one of which is misunderstanding (as evidenced here).

Ta da.

(Even with references this can be an issue. One should wholly understand one’s topic in order to justify referencing. It is a statement that in essence: “I have thought of this while pursuing this line of reasoning, but this guy(ref) thought of and expressed it before me.”)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:44 AM on December 2, 2005


That said - to be perfectly clear - I agree with Optimus Chyme,
plagiarists are scum.
(I had hoped my ploy was so facile it was easily seen through. As it is, perhaps it was just not that comical. Good lord! It is possible I’m not as funny as I think I am?!)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:49 AM on December 2, 2005


I wrote Metamorphosis and The Trail

I remember The Trail! That's the one where Joseph K dies of cholera, right?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:57 AM on December 2, 2005


My Purdue chem professor graded on a bell curve and prohibited calculators during the timed exams back in '72. They were approx. $400 for an HP science model and would have given those with one a great lead.
posted by pointilist at 10:28 AM on December 2, 2005


It is possible I’m not as funny as I think I am?!)
posted by Smedleyman


I laughed, if it's any consolation Smedleyman.
...but only because you beat me to it.
posted by Floydd at 1:05 PM on December 2, 2005


I 'picked-up' the doublepost thing, which was clever, but the write-up explanation of your cleverness in the post comes off snooty, Smedleyman, so now I'm inclined to think you're less funny than the first impression.
posted by nile_red at 10:00 PM on December 2, 2005


« Older Pentagon bribery scandal -- Iraqi journalists...   |   Soy Candles: This Time The New... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post