Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Plagiarism Part II

I wanted to comment about this earlier in the month, but, well, I got busy.

First, I had no idea who Ann Coulter was. Hubbie did though. When I asked him if he knew her, he said, "Yeah, she is the blond conservative who wears leather miniskirts."

He says this like there is only one blond conservative who wears leather miniskirts. By the way, I asked if he thought she was hot, and he said he did not find her hot, but others do. I sort of believe him because when his eyes wander, they usually wander over to some brunette's breasts. Yes, my man is a breast man.

So last month, maybe the month before, I wrote about Kaavya Viswanathan. She was this college girl who was advanced $500K, and her first book lifted lots of phrases from a few books. Now Ann Coulter has been accused of doing the same. One of the many articles can be found below (oh, and I did not plagiarize the passage – that's what citing the source is about, Ms. Coulter).

So I am thinking to myself, "why should I work on an original work? Why not lift something from another book."

I mean, I could start my book with the following: "Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that." But I am not sure I could have Marley's ghost doing the nasty with Leesa. It just would not make sense.

But using Dickens seems wrong. I mean, the sentence is short, the passage is recognizable. If I wanted to steal the longest first sentence I could find, perhaps I could use this one, the opening line from Bellefleur, by Joyce Carol Oates:

It was many years ago in that dark, chaotic, unfathomable pool of time before Germaine's birth (nearly twelve months before her birth), on a night in late September stirred by innumerable frenzied winds, like spirits contending with one another - mow plaintively, now angrily, now with a subtle cellolike delicacy capable of making the flesh rise on one's arms and neck - a night so sulfurous, so restless, so swollen with inarticulate longing that Leah and Gideon Bellefleur in their enormous bed quarreled once again, brought to tears because their love was too ravenous to be contained by their mere mortal bodies; and their groping, careless, anguished words were like strips or raw silk rubbed violently together (for each was convince the other did not, could not, be equal to his love - Leah doubted that any man was capable of a love so profound it could be silent, like a forest pond; Gideon doubted that any woman was capable of comprehending the nature of a man's passion, which might tear through him, rendering him broken and exhausted, as vulnerable as a smalll child): it was on this tumultuous rain-lashed night that Mahalaleel came to Bellefleur Manor on the western shore of the great Lake Noir, where he was to stay for nearly five years.

For those of you who only paused at the ending period, you can breathe now. Wow, what an opening sentence.

On a day when I don't know what to say, I guess I could steal something from Benjamin Franklin. I mean, he had to find all sorts of catchy lines for "Poor Richard's Almanac." I mean, you can see me bust out, " Then plow deep while sluggards sleep, And you shall have corn to sell and to keep." I can getting in to getting plowed deep!

Expert calls passages in Coulter's 'Godless' book 'textbook plagiarism'

Published: Wednesday July 5, 2006
Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show featured an interview with the CEO of a plagiarism recognition system which was used to look through conservative pundit Ann Coulter's latest book Godless and a year's worth of her columns, RAW STORY has found.

John Barrie, the creator of iThenticate, called attention to three examples of what he calls "textbook plagiarism" in Coulter's book, as reported on Sunday by the NY Post.

Barrie told Olbermann that he stopped looking after he found more than enough examples of "lifted" passages, and that many of her footnotes appeared to be in error, as well.

The Rude Pundit first blogged about the apparent plagiarism in a June 2005 column by Coulter a year ago, and Raw Story followed up on the blogger's work, revealing that the column was little more that a cut-and-paste repetition of points authored by conservative religious groups in the early 1990s. Barrie briefly mentions the 2005 column in the MSNBC interview as another example found by iThenticate.

One of the three "textbook plagiarism" examples in Godless cited by Barrie was also noted first by The Rude Pundit last month days after the book's release. RAW STORY then reported that Coulter "cribbed" a list of adult stem cell treatments from a Right To Life website for the seventh chapter of her book nearly word-for-word.

According to TPM Muckraker, Universal Press Syndicate, the company that syndicates Coulter's columns, will be reviewing Barrie's examples of "textbook plagiarism." Earlier in the day, Kathie Kerr, the media relations chief for the company, first told TPM's Justin Rood that Coulter "is the one that needs to address this."

Editor & Publisher notes that Coulter's latest column does "address" the NY Post. Coulter attacks the tabloid by calling it the city's "second-crappiest paper," but never refers to the plagiarism allegations that the paper broke first in print.

Wonkette is skeptical about any Universal Press Syndicate "probe."

"But now, tired of the phone calls, the hand-wringing, the tears and pouting, Ms. Kerr has done a totally convincing about-face, and vaguely promised a maybe-tomorrow-maybe-someday investigation which no doubt will totally condemn the woman who makes them wheelbarrows full of money which, placed end-to-end, could totally reach Uranus," writes Wonkette. "Oh, the wheels of fake justice are swift. I’m giddy, aren’t you?"


Prata said...

I got first!

I don't like conservatives. ^_^
I actually have nothing intelligent to say about this particular post. Mainly because Ms. Coulter means less to me as a "meaingful person" than dirt. I couldn't really care less about her lol.

Bellefleur is excellent though. Twice read moons ago.

Tony said...

Barnacles!! Prata beat me. Does this mean I get sloppy seconds?

We use a program called Turnitin to check our student’s assignments. It’s very comprehensive and so far we haven’t had any problems with plagiarism. I think just knowing their papers will be checked against a huge database prevents the students from succumbing to the pressure to plagiarize.

Leesa said...

prata: I dislike people who are blinded to critical thinking because of their stance (both conservatives and liberals have people who do this).

tony: I had never heard of Turnitin before. Sort of cool, really.

JeffCo said...

Hello Lessa: I have been a casual reader of your posts for a few weeks now and have really enjoyed reading them and most of the comments left by your faithful…or should I say unfaithful followers since I’m sure yours isn’t the only blog they visit. I have now ventured out and created my own blog which gives me the opportunity to leave my comments here.

Taking someone else’s work – intellectual or otherwise – and presenting it as your own is wrong and the offender should be held accountable. That said I also know that there are many who despise Coulter for not only her point of view but also the methods she uses to present that point of view and will go out of their way to discredit what she has said. I am skeptical of the article you posted because it does not list any specific instances, but is more of a he-said/she-said. I have also heard it said that the passages that are being pointed to as plagiarism are recounting of fact. There are only so many ways to rewrite something like ‘the drunk driver in the blue truck was going 35 miles over the speed limit”. Yes, the source should be listed, but it is difficult to reword a fact.

If she’s guilty, she deserves a proper punishment (hmmmm…I wonder where that will go), but it should not be blown out of proportion.

That’s my two cents – keep up the great posts.

Prata said...

I agree entirely Leesa. I was just givin' ya trouble with the conservative jab. You know, I have a huge headache. I blame you specifically for this. Now make amends..*boggles*

I've heard of Turnitin before, but am fuzzy on the details. Is Turnitin related to the MIT project?

Video X said...

I really do not dislike Ann Coulter. I hope that it is not true. I tend to not necessarily believe the accusations because she of course will continue to receive tons of criticism no matter what as she has offended many many people...and because I have not done my own research. I most likely will not...because I am too busy and at times lazy. I think she is pretty harsh with what she says, but then I am also a pretty strong conservative in most fact, as I get older...I become more and more so.

Plagiarism is terribly wrong. I do not like people who benefit from such practice, nor have I ever understood why someone would even want to do it. It makes no sense. It still takes work to plagiarize! I see it a lot being that I am still working on my masters degree...forever...haha...

Prata said...

But...plagiarism does not require you to form your own thoughts and opinions. That is the part that people find easy about it.

Plagiarism allows you to take a side in a topic and to basically continue working as the sheep you are....without forming your own opinions about whatever it is you're investigating/writing.

Video X said...

I still think it's hard to do it...but that's perhaps because ultimately I would fear getting caught. I think it makes people look stupid. I also (not fact based in general...only based on what I see in my classes) think that it is terribly difficult to do without getting caught...but I am an ass to cheaters at school because their cheating affects MY grade, hence ultimately my reimbursement.

Never mind the fact that when I write a paper, I actually enjoy doing the references...haha...I'm a structure kind of person.

Prata said...

I don't mind doin' references and stuff like that. I always was a fan of writing papers though. I enjoy writing down my thoughts and the reasons why my evidences supports my claim. But that's just me.

I like thinking for myself. I don't like reading a book and deciding, okay...that's what my opinion is too! That makes ya look especially stupid.

Video X said...

I'd have to agree it's much more interesting to read someone's own original thoughts. I was thinking in reference to my paper-writing (since I am in no way a creative writer)...which is all very dull engineering based technical stuff (I like it though). In my case, citing other people's work almost always happens.

LeperColony said...

I would be more likely to believe Ms Coulter was a plagarist if I believed she could read.

Leesa said...

JeffCo: thanks for the comments. Newsday also reported the news, but I have not found any reputable news outlet report this. Sorry for the bad source.

prata: Turnitin seems to be focussed on catching academic cheaters. How did such a software program catch Ms. Coulter - anti-academic.

VX: you know, I always thought that cheaters never win, but oddly, I think they may win.

leper: good point!

Video X said...

haha...yes i think that you are right, and in many cases they do win. that's the frustration for me. if they didn't win, then why would anyone care.

Mark said...

Anne Coulter is no more a paragon of virtue than let's say, Al Franken. Both get their fame by being outrageous in some way. What I truly don't like about her is the way she demeans anybody and any point of view at odds with her personality cult. She makes Bill O'Reilly look like an honest caring soul. In short, she's just another person making the most of her short claim to fame by being an obnoxious, rude, and uncharitable person. At least Al Franken is funny.
I hope she get's hoisted by her own petard like many another so-called conservative. Maybe she'll be found in a orgy with Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Jimmy Swaggert, and one of those morons from Texas (take your pick).

Mark said...

I forgot to add -- she's about as sexy as cold burnt toast.

Goddess said...

Heh... When I have to write a paper... as horrible as it sounds, I write the paper FIRST.... all of my ideas, how I think, what I see, and THEN I go find research that backs my claim. One, it ensures that I dont "lift" someones work, and two, it takes SOOOOO much less time to google something I want and get a response to copy and paste and then do the references. Yeah, I am lazy.