November 3, 2013

On the occasion of the accusations of plagiarism against Rand Paul...

Let's go to the blog archives. It's nice to have a "plagiarism" tag that lets me pull out so many old conversations about plagiarism that were prompted by various things over the years. (The links are on the numbers.)

1. "The internet is changing the way students think about plagiarism... or — I would add — they way they lie about it."

2. "Confusion over sources or indifference to them can be a paradoxical strength; if we could tag the sources of all our knowledge, we would be overwhelmed with often irrelevant information."

3. "The real fault is not making it a point always to write sharp, distinctive prose. Prose like the stuff [Maureen] Dowd lifted called out for rewriting. She might not have known to think I can't use that because I didn't write it. But she should at least have thought I can't use that because it's dull."

4. "'[T]here is a big difference between being a plagiarist — at bottom, lazy or sloppy — and being a fabulist.' It's tougher to make things up than to copy, and yet it's Lehrer who's screwed himself more deeply."

5. "'To coin a phrase, in the spirit of the vice president-elect, you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need,' Alito said, an imperfect rendering of a Rolling Stones lyric. Then, he added, 'Did someone say that before?'"

6."My dear, it's called an allusion. The error isn't stealing, it's assuming people get it."

7. "Jerry Seinfeld's late-night rant about his wife's cookbook rival was no joke to the author's family."

8. "When you are discovered, I want you to claim — really sincerely — that you actually mistakenly believed that you remembered the incident as if it had happened to you. You can be all: 'I am chagrined and astonished that my mind could play such a trick on me.'"

9. "How is it possible for someone in [Fareed Zakaria's] position to make a mistake of that kind? The risk far outweighs any convenience in copying material like this. It can't be deliberate."

10. "Once you’ve been busted for making stuff up, you need to be sure that what you publish is reasonably accurate... though I suppose that passing on other people’s fabrications is arguably a modest improvement over creating his own."

11. "Should Coldplay be able to force Hoepfner to take down his accusatory video and apologize, or do we think it's a nice resolution of the controversy for Coldplay to escape unsued and for Hoepfner to have his viral video to leverage his band to whatever degree of fame it can get out of this amusing little artistic squabble?"

12. "'I think that’s the way Bob Dylan has always written songs.... It’s part of the folk process, even if you look from his first album until now.' Well, theft itself is a traditional 'process,' but it would still piss me off if someone robbed me, either with a six gun or a fountain pen. At least Dylan called an album 'Love and Theft,' and he's repeatedly presented himself as a thief in various lyrics. To have Bob Dylan steal some of your phrases and the Dylan fanatics ferret out the connection he declined to tell us about is to get publicity you never would have gotten otherwise."

13. "When you accuse a 6-year-old of plagiarism in an art contest, you'd better be ready to make a decision to disqualify her and stick to it. You've besmirched her, and you can't unbesmirch her. Oh, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service! You idiots!"

14. Rush Limbaugh appropriates my question, without attribution.

15. "And if our good opinion of him is based mainly on his speeches, then we have reason to examine why we're supporting him. But politics is full of stock phrases, contagious memes, and brainstormed messages."

16. "Obama defends his use of a couple lines given him by his associate Duval Patrick. 'This is where we start getting into the silly season in politics.'"

17. Ch-ch-ch-changes:


somefeller said...

Writers (a word which broadly includes bloggers, journalists and academics) are likely to be offended by plagiarism. Other people, not so much.

Paul said...

Anyone can edit Wikipedia, so to me it is an non-issue.

And if Biden can be let off a zillion times (and he didn't use Wikipedia) then what is the problem?

Illuninati said...

Plagiarism is not all the same.
Some questions I would ask before judging the situation are:
1. Did the writer violate intellectual property laws?
2. Is the person trying to get credit for work he/she never did? Example students turning in papers not their own.
3. Can the plagiarism damage other people? Examples include a prophet who presents copied material as if it were material he/she received from God. If the allegations are correct, Alex Haley's book, Roots, might be in this category since it allegedly presented purloined fiction as if it were history.
4. Does the writer have his/her their own ideas and is using the plagiarized material to bolster them, or is the plagiarist stealing the ideas as well as the words?
5. Is the author intentionally stealing someone else's words, or is it a slip up where the author forgets to reference the quote?
6. Is the author using someone else's material with the original authors consent and support since the original author is more interested in promoting a set of ideals than in gaining credit for the specific wording of he statement?

pm317 said...

In your list, you only have one entry for Obama?!

Archie said...

"I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? [Then pointing to his wife in the audience] Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because I'm the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest?" Joe "Plagiarizing Sack" Biden channeling Neil Kinnock 1987.

surfed said...

EVERY guitar player has nicked somebody for a lick. Kieth Richards was/is quite open about it. We used to get front row just to nick licks from all the great guitarists that would come through. NO lick was safe when I was around.

surfed said...

Addendum - The most stolen from guitar palyer ever? Chuck Berry.

Earnest Prole said...

“Three cheers for plagiarism! Without it there'd be no culture worth the name.”

bbkingfish said...

His political opponents have ridiculed Biden's plagiarism at every opportunity for 25 years now. For this reason (in part) he never has made a serious run at the Presidency.

I'm sure Rand Paul's duplicity will receive the same treatment from his political opponents (and they're not all Democrats).

Lem said...

I know Doris Kearns Goodwin, I went to school with Doris Kearns Goodwin... Senator Rand Paul, you are No Doris Kearns Goodwin.

David Davenport said...

Uncle Joe! I forget about him. He's planning to compete with Hillary to be the next D. nominee for Prez.

Hairplugs Biden: another youthful face of the the 21st cen. Dem. Party.

Ann Althouse said...

"In your list, you only have one entry for Obama?!"

No. There are 2.

Archie said...

"When you are discovered, I want you to claim — really sincerely — that you actually mistakenly believed that you remembered the incident as if it had happened to you. You can be all: 'I am chagrined and astonished that my mind could play such a trick on me.'" This is a relative of the Hillary Clinton running-to-the- airport-under-fire canard.

ken in sc said...

In the 4th grade, a substitute teacher who didn't know me, falsely accused me of copying a report I wrote. I had, according to tests, a 10th grade vocabulary. She didn't know that. I am still PO'd about her accusation.

Dr. Althouse seems to express a great deal of concern with plagiarism. Has she ever expressed any concern about the plagiarism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 's dissertation and the fact that he did not really earn a doctorate honestly.

BTW, I clicked on plagiarism and did not see a list. I don't know if she listed him or not.