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With the revelation of plagiarism, Trump stands to lose the significant support he enjoyed from academics and journalists.

Ryan D. Enos
Political Scientist
Harvard

When it comes to American plagiarism, which this blog only two weeks ago called…

… “the life blood of this and almost all other nations,” UD always refers her readers to its explanatory urtext, The Great Gatsby. Gatsby is the great American novel in part because it captures better than any other literary work the entirely engineered, shabby dreamweaver thing that is the modern self-made – or rather made-self – American.

If you cry for poor James Gatz/Jay Gatsby at the end of that novel, dead in his pool, spare a tear for Melanija Knavs/Melania Knauss/Melania Trump/Melania whatever last name she takes after Trump divorces her… because it’s not really her fault that she read a plagiarized speech written for her (she’s not well-educated — like Gatsby, who advertises himself as “an Oxford man” but who had only a glancing acquaintance with that school, Melania claims to have graduated from college when she did not) instead of an original speech written for her. F. Scott Fitzgerald already gave us her shiny bogus world, which she had every reason to believe was shiny and bogus all the way down.

Is there a scammy, crime-tinted, er, aspect to that world? Has her husband, like Gatsby, been a little less than legit in his dealings? Well he didn’t graduate from Wharton for nothing and it’s a big bad dirty world out there, etc., etc. etc. but the main thing is that it all looks good and no one’s floating in a pool. Keep the aspidistra flying. Brazen it out.

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Yes of course there’s an ugly under the pretty. Slave Michelle provides the labor; Master Melania and her Manipulators exploit it. But after all “the Obamas don’t really belong in the White House, i.e., they didn’t legitimately achieve their current status.”

Not everybody, in other words, gets to play the Gatsby game – like say if you were really born in Kenya.

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Has damage been done to Trump’s campaign, as some observers suggest?

No. Trump’s followers are people who do not mind that their candidate correctly characterizes them as “the poorly educated.” Melania would have done damage had she attempted to disentangle, in the minds of her listeners, Slovenia, Slovakia, Slavonia, Slobodan Milošević, and Lower Slobbovia.

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UD thanks Dave.

TW! (This blog now issues Trumper Warnings when it’s going to link to a Trump-related news article.)

University Diaries, comme vous le savez bien, loves fascinating plagiarism tales. Plagiarism being the life blood of this and almost all other nations, there are huge gobs of unfascinating plagiarism tales – the new school superintendent (yawn), the new school superintendent (did I already say that?) …

But when this nation’s Savant of the Secondary Market, when our Genius of the Jumbo Loan, turns out to have plagiarized from obscure earlier texts in his Billionaire’s Road Map to Success… well, UD sits up and takes notice.

At least 20 pages of the Trump Institute book were copied entirely or in large part from “Real Estate Mastery System.” Even some of its hypothetical scenarios — “Seller A is asking $80,000 for a single-family residence” — were repeated verbatim.

That’s why you pay so much for the Secrets of the Master at Trump Institute/Trump University!

If the people of Alachua County don’t think they deserve anything better than…

… a school superintendent whose self-published book has significant plagiarism, and includes sentences like “The flow of hot unpretentious lava with many fingers,” that’s their business.

Your Morning Giggle

In Romania, you can get out of prison if you write enough books. One book = 30 days reduction in sentence.

One businessman just got out after writing five books; one of his comrades in crime, also now released, wrote four books.

Dark rumors of a plagiaristic nature are beginning to surface, however…

‘Roberts said he disagrees. “I didn’t know there were academic norms at all,” he said.’

Next stop: Visiting professorship, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

“There has never been plagiarism in the puzzle world.”

Will the New York Times take action against the plagiarist?

No.

Why not?

Well, if you ask ol’ UD (she’s grateful to a number of readers who have linked her to this innovative form of plagiarism), the whole thing’s just too measly. Pursuing a lawsuit about crossword puzzles would be like crossword puzzles themselves:

1 ACROSS: SEVEN LETTERS, OF LITTLE IMPORTANCE
1 DOWN: PHRASE, ELEVEN LETTERS, THREE WORDS, POOR USE OF ONE’S MORNING

“[I]n a section of her thesis about the characteristics of stem cells, [Haruko Obokata, a now-disgraced Japanese stem cell researcher] had cut and pasted long passages from the National Institutes of Health Web site… Obokata says that she was hurrying to finish her thesis before the deadline, and accidentally bound and submitted a draft rather than the final version. But [a fellow scientist] says that when he confronted her about the plagiarism she said that it was common at Waseda [University], and that a faculty member had told her that no one reads the theses anyway.”

A long New Yorker essay about madly proliferating stem cell research fraud reminds us of PhD protocols at some of the world’s prominent universities:

Cut – Paste – Pass Without Reading

“He is often regarded as the only candidate with a realistic chance who is not obviously a scoundrel.”

The Peruvian presidential field (great overview here) includes a plagiarist/copyist. That is, César Acuña not only plagiarized the bulk of his PhD thesis; he also removed the author’s name from a book on educational theory and replaced it with his own.

Commentary.

Can UD be the only person for whom plagiarists and their defenders have a distinct charm?

A sweet disorder in the prose
Kindles in me oohs and ohs:—
A plagiarism has me thrown
Into a fine distractión,—
An erring line, which here and there
Enthrals the happy reader fair —
A quote neglectful, and thereby
Prose that flows confusedly,—
A shocking theft, deserving note,
From something that was ‘fore that wrote —
A careless word-string, in whose sense
I see fantastic fraudulence,—
Do more bewitch me, than when prose
Is too precise in every pose.

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Can UD be the only person who thrills to tales like these?

An elected member of the Nevada Board of Regents is amending his 1995 University of Nevada, Reno dissertation following the discovery that more than four pages of it were copied from an uncited California report.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in late August that Regent Jason Geddes, who has defended the Nevada System of Higher Education against allegations it plagiarized a think tank’s report, had copied material in his own academic work.

Geddes has a doctorate in environmental sciences and health and has been a member of the Board of Regents since 2006.

Geddes’ adviser Glenn Miller was adamant Geddes did not plagiarize — despite pages of paragraphs being copied exactly, with the exception of an occasional word change and conversions to the metric system. Miller said it wasn’t plagiarism because dissertations aren’t widely read, the copied work was accurate and the copied language wasn’t creative …

Breathes there the soul which aren’t widely read fails to quicken? The copied work was accurately copied! The copied work was not creative! Please tell UD she’s not the only person bewitched not merely by plagiarism, but by (recalling this classic) excuses for it!

Yet for all the delight one takes in the defenders, there is nothing like the audacious copyists themselves. Recall, merely among professors, the selfsame University of Nevada’s Mustapha Marrouchi, who had apparently been plagiarizing (from hundreds of sources) for decades. Think, more recently, of Arizona State’s Matthew Whitaker, whose “resignation” will cost that university hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But if you ask UD, hundreds of thousands of dollars is a bargain. These guys and their shenanigans (note what Whitaker’s got going on with the City of Phoenix) might be fun for UD to follow, but when you get down to it, they’re really embarrassing.

Return to …

Spender.

It sounds like a Christo work…

… but apparently Korean academia’s project to re-wrap hundreds of book covers is a homegrown effort.

[200 Korean] professors, mostly in science and engineering majors, are accused of publishing others’ works under their own names by simply changing the book covers to boost their academic profiles ahead of assessments for rehiring.

UD‘s always complaining about how boringly uniform the act of plagiarism is, but HEY. New one on me.

Yet is it even right to call this innovation plagiarism? Plagiarism involves at least glancing contact with, and often manipulation of, the writing of other people. In this scheme, carried out with the full cooperation of publishers, and in many cases with the original authors’ cooperation (publishers got to re-market “new” books; authors allegedly got kickbacks), you simply supply your name to the publisher, who redesigns the cover with you listed as the author. This looks more like the decorative arts.

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Plenty of scope here for puns in any case. Korean publishers offer non-binding contracts… Psychoanalytic volumes? Shrink-wrapped… The wit of Seoul is brevity…

A Rector Set

21% of Russia’s university leaders submitted plagiarized dissertations.

It’s not the plagiarism. It’s the excuses for the plagiarism.

This Russki says it ain’t plagiarism; it’s unscrupulous borrowing.

Explaining via Facebook in April the unattributed matches in his thesis with works of other authors, [former Duma Speaker Vladimir] Platonov used [a] euphemism, “unscrupulous borrowing,” that, he said, is not plagiarism.

This Georgian says it’s unverified content acceptance.

[Augusta Georgia Mayor Hardie] Davis admitted to accepting “content and feedback from multiple outside contributors without verifying the source of the information they provided.” Davis’ continued in the statement that he used the information from the feedback without citing who wrote the information. “I did not willfully or knowingly use someone else’s professional work as my own.”

This Italian says it’s nonfiction fiction:

[Roberto Saviano calls himself] a “non-fiction novelist,” in the tradition of Truman Capote, dealing in absolute truth but leavened with literary flourish.

Medieval Copyist

Peru’s leading newspaper said it will no longer publish editorials by the cardinal and archbishop of Lima after accusing him of plagiarizing past popes in his articles.

… Juan Luis Cipriani … copied portions of the book “Communio,” written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI, and of the encyclical “Ecclesiam Suam,” written by Pope Paul VI in two of his editorials.

… He suggested to listeners of his radio program, “Dialogues of Faith,” that the newspaper’s response was “revenge” for his inflexible opposition to abortion and gay marriage…

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