An Unusual Outcome

In the wake of plagiarism allegations, the president of Hobart William Smith Colleges has resigned. This rapid outcome (allegations against him were made only a few days ago) suggests the charges were probably true, the plagiarism significant, and the fight to retain the position not worth it.

“Nothing in the academy bylaws allowed for ousting a member who had committed scientific misconduct.”

In the current case of Eric Noji, it’s odd that no one ever considered his self-description on his academic web page… odd.

Professor Eric K. Noji is a medical doctor, skilled wildlife biologist, passionate environmentalist and iconic figure in the humanitarian community whose medical work and travels to the most austere and hostile of environments on earth are both mythic in their epic sweep and inspirational in their chronology of self-sacrifice on behalf of children who are homeless, abused, starving, or left destitute by disasters, violence or war.

The phrase mythic in their epic sweep didn’t … seem… odd to anyone?

No one wondered why under skills and expertise he listed over one hundred specializations?

I mean, yes, after decades of alleged plagiarism and lies, Noji has been removed to Disgraced Rogue Central: Saudi Arabia. But no one seems able to convince the Institute of Medicine that they should rescind his membership.

After much anguishing, the IOM has decided that, okay,

membership [can] be rescinded if an individual provided false information before becoming a member.

Falsification, plagiarism or fabrication after a doctor becomes a member of the elite organization isn’t grounds for removal…

This sort of approach explains why Bernie Madoff maintained his country club memberships through much of his … unpleasantness. These places are private organizations and they’re a mite on the stodgy side and they like to do things their own way.

Once Bernie was carted off to prison for life because he stole $65 billion, his clubs apparently decided to take another look at his membership status…

And UD is going to guess that the big splashy New York Times article that just came out about the IOM and its highest-profile member might get its expulsion machinery cranking …

“[T]he consequences of plagiarism are determined by who you are more than anything else.”

Back in the day, Southern Illinois University’s president Glenn Poshard was found to have plagiarized in sections of both his master’s and his PhD. He shed public tears, and the internal group of hacks assigned to exonerate him promptly did so. An SIU emerita professor summed it all up succinctly: I quote her in my headline.

Those wondering about the fate of Hobart and William Smith president Gregory Vincent can take heart. Tears will be shed, and we will be assured by an internal committee that innocent mistakes were made. There’s plenty of precedent for this. This is how it’s done.

‘When Kim first tried to raise the plagiarism issue during the public comment portion of a school board meeting, Walton ruled him out of order for making a “personal attack” on Baldwin.’

Like the Howard University student who dared address the school’s great and powerful president about a lack of housing, Ridgefield High School senior Paul Kim dared point out that the superintendent of schools in his region of Connecticut was a career plagiarist.

Both students got slapped down real good; but the truth has a way, sometimes, of winning out — especially the truth that the first instinct of inept authorities faced with subordinate truth-tellers is to slap them down.

“Walton” is school board chairwoman Fran Walton, currently working out a resignation agreement for plagiarist superintendent Karen Baldwin.

This is maybe the twentieth post UD has done on high school administrators who plagiarize like crazy. These people are often making enormous salaries (Baldwin’s was close to $250,000), but cannot find the time or the brain cells to write their own simple greetings and announcements to their communities, thus setting a fine example for the legions of young writers under their care.

The Quest of Chatterton

Once Thomas Chatterton Williams, a writer named after the tragic poet, sensed some plagiarism in this Daily Beast essay, he pressed on, and discovered gobs of it.

The author, Lizzie Crocker, lifted much of this Weekly Standard essay about outing people. She has resigned/been fired from the Daily Beast.

All that’s left is why. As you, dear reader, know, this blog has been attempting to answer that question for a long time.

Chatterton says it’s because, given the vast ideological divide between the rightwing Standard and leftwing Beast, Crocker figured no one would read both her piece and the one by the Standard writer, Alice B. Lloyd. But he then goes on to note the irony that the content of the piece (an analysis of the ethics of revealing anonymous sources) fits both places perfectly well… And indeed UD and Chatterton can’t be the only people in America who read both of those magazines…

No, UD proposes that this instance of plagiarism falls under her Ambition category (see her categories here). A little searching reveals Crocker to be a young and very ambitious writer; my guess is that she leads her life at breakneck speed, and that she speedily gobbled Lloyd’s writing, and that there’s a reason they call it breakneck.

Marry in Haste, Repent at Leisure, Said Samuel Johnson.

And UD says:

Cut and paste
In haste,
Blame everyone else
At leisure.

Which is to say that the latest plagiarism miscreant, Jill Bialosky (read the last paragraphs of this review), is going to have to end her dignified silence pretty soon and start shoveling shit like there’s no tomorrow. My research assistant did it, my computer did it, my editor did it, my agent did it, my ex-husband did it, my publicist did it, solar storms did it.

“[I]t’s hard to imagine Bialosky’s intended audience,” writes William Logan, her plagiarism-unmasker. Yet therein lies the problem. Her “condescending” book of platitudes about poetry clearly intends to corner the high school textbook market, and really how much effort do you want to put into that? Just pick up capsule bios of the poets from the Poetry Foundation and stick them between pages of metrical triage.

Even Bialosky’s title has a familiar ring – she’s picked up her cheap urgency (Poetry Will Save Your Life) from Alain De Botton’s equally blowhardy How Proust Can Change Your Life.

If Bialosky has any sense, she will, having been caught red-handed, admit the plagiarism and have the book shredded. If she has more sense even than that, she will refrain not only from blaming others, but also from shifting into second gear when that fails: Confiding in us the dire psychological/financial/chemical problems that made her so desperate that she had to plagiarize. The less said the better, especially because plagiarists are notoriously prone to plagiarize repeatedly, and she doesn’t want our attention drawn to her other work.

The National Science Foundation Inspector General Shares her Favorite Plagiarism Excuses.

I was distracted by bird vocalizations outside my thatched roof hut, grabbed my digital camera to get pictures of the pair of woodpeckers, and when I returned to my computer where I thought I had saved my changes to the material, it had crashed with the wrong draft saved.

I guess my thinking was this person is just trying to understand what my research is about and what I’m proposing to do. And so how is letting him or her know that I got this text from this other paper, how is that going to help him understand better my project or what I’m trying to say?

I did not copy from the suggested source. We just both paraphrased from the cited author in exactly the same way.

As engineers, we do not use quotation marks around copied text.

Quotation marks are only needed for the copied words of “famous people.”

It’s only a proposal. It’s not like it’s a publication. The reviewers are smart enough to know what is my work and what is someone else’s.

My English teacher told me it’s not plagiarism if I change every seventh word.

A rogue British secretary did it.

UD‘s favorite is the engineers one.

*****************

And think about it. These are her highly selected best ones. The five thousand or so others she receives every year didn’t make the cut.

In the matter of Canadian poet Pierre DesRuisseaux, the question is not Who did he plagiarize? The question is: Who did he not?

The old and globally popular trick of publishing poems you’ve translated from one language to another as your own has caught up with the celebrated DesRuisseaux, a plagiarist who had the good sense to die last year, shortly before a careful reader noticed that if you translate one of his poems (back) into English it’s actually the work of Maya Angelou. This discovery drew the interest of Ira Lightman, a plagiarism detective.

Angelou? Ce n’est que la pointe de l’iceberg.

At latest count this poet laureate ripped off at least ten other poets – translated their work into French and put his name on it.

The book has been pulled; and, in an effort to save the guy’s ass, various supporters ask us to believe that when he wrote the book he suffered from Dementia (Inadvertent Global Plagiarism Type).

“It’s perplexing why you’d plagiarize when just introducing yourself.”

So says a commenter on this odd story, and so say all of us. Plagiarize a scholarly article, a commissioned report, a poem, yes. But a letter introducing yourself? Yourself?

IgNobel

They sat together in the park
As the evening sky grew dark
She looked at him and he found the Spark

Plagiarism: The Blind Lateral Play.

Making $115,000 is easy when you’re asked to write a report for an interest group with whose policy positions you agree. It’s even easier when you figure no one actually reads policy reports like these; the interest group sends the report along to reporters and legislators and again no one reads them; or if they read them it’s rapid skimming for a quotation or two. Piece of cake.

Pity this University of Tennessee report-writer, though: He quite reasonably assumed he could cut and paste something and no one would read it and he’d get paid — end of story. But in this case it turned out to be a blind lateral move. Cuz the advocacy group hired (unknown to the original report-writer) another guy to also write a report for them. They showed this other guy our guy’s work. This other guy immediately recognized that our guy “had replicated a significant portion of work, word-for-word and without citation, from [this other guy’s] colleague.” A lawyer for the advocacy group (there’s a lawsuit, natch) adds: “The Initial Report also copied portions of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Inter-Governmental A1 Relations, Study A-121, and a brief by the U.S. Department of Justice.”

So our guy threw a blind lateral – he took from here and he took from there without glancing over to see whether his main source might be standing right here on the field right next to him.

UD‘s favorite part of this plagiarism story involves the amazing chutzpah of the plagiarist (a guy who specializes, by the way, in media ethics), who “admits,” through his lawyer, that “he tried to fix the report, adding additional footnotes and attribution, to suit the foundation and even threw in some additional research for free.”

Mes petites, you gotta love it. I mean, not just the word “fix.” Oops, just a little fine tuning needed… there! Fixed! Not just the word “additional.” Oh, all right. If you really insist, I’ll go back and futz with the report, you annoying nit-pickers…

Datz nothing! He even “threw in some additional research for free.” They should be paying him! With his first-rate research skills, he did some pro bono work for them – out of the goodness of his heart. And now they’re still suing him! And they still want their money back!

And it doesn’t end there! Our guy “is arguing that even if he is guilty of plagiarism, only the authors of the works from which he stole can pursue legal action for copyright infringement.” The foundation points out that the plagiarism is on them; if the other guy hadn’t found it and told them about it, it would have made the foundation look like … well, let’s not be unpleasant and use adjectives to characterize the sort of person who does what our guy does and then tries to clean up the mess the way our guy has… If you don’t have anything nice to say, as our mothers instructed us, don’t say anything at all…

“Titillating” doesn’t begin to describe how exciting UD finds it…

… when big ol’ macho men accused of plagiarizing counterattack. Rand Paul drew himself up to his full Randian height and spat the following out to the “hacks and haters” who exposed him:

“I take it as an insult, and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting — I have never intentionally done so and like I say, ‘If dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know it’d be a duel challenge.’”

Here he is in all his finery up against Rachel Maddow. (Gets a little gross at the end.)

But now there’s David Clarke, and you just know this dude is also going to challenge someone to a duel.

So far he’s only done ye olde it’s a political smear thing. UD predicts his next move will up the ante and thrill her right down to the ground.

***************

UPDATE: YES!! Calls guy who outed him a “sleaze bag.”

Things are coming along nicely, and UD pants for Clarke, like Rand Paul, to upgrade to direct threats.

Could Clarke take it one step further than Paul’s mere fantasies about duels? Be still my heart…

Limerick.

At writing, Trump’s candidate, Gorsuch
Has certainly got quite a poor touch.
But to disqualify
I’m afraid this won’t fly.
There really has got to be more such.

Double Arias at…

… the Vienna State Opera.

America’s Ready for a Plagiarist to Run the Nation’s Housing…

… but not a plagiarist to run communications.

********

I’ll tell you ol’ UD‘s take on it.

Crowley was a veteran, all over the place, slaphappy plagiarist. So are a lot of people. What’s scandalous here is the woman’s assumption that even after having taken the job of one of the country’s highest-profile writers, she could continue to get away with it. She didn’t even fucking disclose!

And you know why not?

Because virtually everyone in this administration, starting at the top, flagrantly plays the angles. She figured she could too.

(Carson? He apologized. He’s more high-profile, having run for prez. And being a plagiarist doesn’t have obvious and immediate implications for running housing.)

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