Some sort of distemper has gotten into the Armstrong line…

… as that name generates one shameless POS after another. There’s Lance Armstrong, of course; and now there’s Charles Armstrong, career plagiarist. Both men enjoyed hero status in their professions for decades, even as both were absolute and, to use the word again, shameless frauds. Lance doesn’t need a link over his name; everyone knows what a shameless (there it goes again) liar and cheat that American hero turned out to be. Charles, thanks to enablers like Columbia University and Cornell University Press, has a lower profile, but reputable historians have been trying to tell anyone who will listen (which didn’t, for ages, include his publisher and his employer) that he’s been fabricating and stealing forever. Charles was obviously also helped along by a disciplinary community that failed to detect (willfully overlooked?) gross irregularities in his work.

But shameless. Let me tell you about shameless. When Armstrong, back in 2016, began fielding attacks on his latest book, it went like this:

Soon after the allegations were made public, Armstrong responded … that he “did not comment on any specific issues critics have raised with the book”. On December 30, 2016, Armstrong finally directly addressed the issues raised by the critics, stating: “For those who find the book flawed, inaccurate or insufficiently researched, the answer is simple: write a better book.”

Wee lads and lassies! Obscure jealous persons! Write a better book!

The fucker got away with it for so long; his main victim endured years of ridicule and neglect for daring to question The Great and Powerful Oz. Even now, Columbia has punished him by giving him a full year sabbatical and allowing him to “retire,” while Cornell Press has said jackshit about an episode (the fools even printed a revised version that Armstrong promised was all cleaned up) that reveals a great deal about the quality of their reviewers and editors.

All plagiarism is multi-plagiarism.

In her big ol’ lawsuit against some Brazilian woman who’s been publishing romance novels plagiarized from a thousand sources (earlier post about the Brazilian bad girl here), bohemoth-of-the-bodice-rippers Nora Roberts uses the term “multi-plagiarism” to describe the crime.

While UD prefers the alliterative poly-plagiarism, she’s not sure we need either term, since in her experience (and faithful readers know we’ve been studying and tracking plagiarism on this blog for centuries), most plagiarizers not only plagiarize repeatedly from book to book, article to article, art installation to art installation; they also plagiarize far and wide within the work, gathering many prose patches in order to realize the rich tapestry, the coat of many colors, that is the stupendously simulacral artifact.

And if you think about it from the copyists’ point of view, the more bricolaged the book the better, ja? Less likely any particular plagiaree will notice… Wise word thieves also make an effort to steal from the obscure dead rather than from enraged, high profile, rich, and extant people like Nora Roberts…

Like her many Harvard precursors, Miss Brasilia blames everything on It’s hard to get good help these days.

When it comes to plagiarism, there’s a whole cathecism.

And you can hear it directly from a priest.

[I] relied on material prepared by interns.

[I did it] under the pressure of urgent media deadlines.

[I] often have many articles open on my computer at one time, and make notes by copying work between files, but I have not maliciously stolen others’ work as my own.

I’m glad someone brought it to my attention.

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

Hey lookee there look what I’ve been doing for the last thirty years. What a thing to have happened! Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Yours truly, a high-ranking advisor to the pope.

‘I just woke up to distressing news that my work has plagiarism from other authors. I am taking down all the works I did with a ghostwriter …’

The end of an affair.

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

This is our last book together

This printing will soon be long ago

And in our moment of parting

This is all I want you to know

There will be many more romances like this

I’ll be stealing plots from someone new

There will be other words to copy

But there will never be another you

There will be other paragraphs to lift

But they won’t thrill me

Like yours used to do

I’ll plagiarize a million scenes

A million characters too

But there will never, ever be another you.

Harvardize! Let no one else’s work evade your eyes!

SOOOOO many Harvard professors – the latest is Jill Abramson – have plagiarized parts of their books that UD figures it’s time to update Tom Lehrer’s famous song, “Lobachevsky.” It’s not plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize! anymore: It’s Harvardize!

And why wouldn’t a Harvard professor do the deed? They suffer no consequences (“Realistically, you’re not going to fire Laurence Tribe or Charles Ogletree.“).

Ahem. As concerns the latest high-profile plagiarism story…

… recall UD‘s Tripartite A Scheme for plagiarism — i.e., plagiarism almost always falls into the category Atelier, Ambition, or Addicted (details), and it should be pretty easy for you to conclude that Jill Abramson is Atelier. Very busy successful high-profile people (Jane Goodall, Alan Dershowitz – and a raft of other Harvard law school profs – Doris Kearns Goodwin, Fareed Zakaria, Rand Paul) have ateliers of assistants who do much of their work for them, and … you know … it’s hard to find good help.

‘Ms Sushko apologised and claimed that she sometimes outsourced her editor’s letter to a trusted freelancer as she had a lot of work and could get stuck on the letter for “several days because of the big responsibility and stress.”’

If you’re an academic, it’s an evil grad student/research assistant; if you’re a magazine editor, it’s a trusted freelancer — but whoever the ghostly awful person who plagiarized and then put the product under your innocent name, the important thing, when you’re caught red-handed, is to find someone to blame it on.

But social media users were already posting previous instances of plagiarism by the [Ukrainian] Vogue editor…

BTW: Nice move, international-relations-wise, to be a Ukrainian who rips off a Russian. I mean, who needs independence?

It’s not the plagiarism. It’s the Osteen.

The prez of LeMoyne-Owen stole some of her motivational speech to students from another writer, and the school has a right to be appalled and to seek her resignation – especially since she denies she plagiarized.

But the real ground for eviction lies in her source material. Instead of reaching for Frost or Thoreau or even Dave Barry, she went for Mr Shit-Eating Grin himself, Joel Osteen.







Sing it.

This is my trauma
Had it from birth
This is my trauma
Grandest on earth

My fellow poet stole it
O plagiarist! You’re bold!

But this is my trauma
To have and to hold







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.







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