Saturday, August 18, 2007

Plagiarizer Nabbed at Blogger News Network

A plagiarizer has been nabbed at Blogger News Network.

BNN publisher Robert Hayes was contacted yesterday by an author who said that a post by Shantanu Duttu on BNN contained plagiarized text from his published work. Hayes immediately investigated and discovered that Duttu "had extensively plagiarized many, many of his posts at BNN, copying outright from other news sources."

Today Hayes notified contributors, writers, and registered users at BNN of this issue. He said BNN is working on improving their ability to detect plagiarism.

"BNN strives for the highest ethical standards," Hayes wrote in his memo. "When we fail to achieve those standards, as we have in this case, we are obliged to be forthright about our failure."

My personal opinion? I post on BNN and I find the site well run. When a writer first starts posting at BNN, their posts are blocked briefly so that they can be screened before publication. As a writer at BNN, I had a question for Robert Hayes and he got back to me within hours. That told me that a writer at BNN is not treated like some Rodney Dangerfield character who can't "get no respect". And BNN now has the added perk of a Book Review Club. Approved writers can join the Club and get free books, DVDs and CDs to review --which reminds me, I have a book to review for them.

BNN's ethics where showcased a year or two when they stopped taking Google ads, as a way of protesting their unethical practices in China.

1 comment:

dag said...

Wittgenstein wasted a large forest writing about the idea of "private language" before he concluded it is not possible to have such a thing, to no one's surprise. Smart guy, yes, who came to a smart conclusion for no good reason at all: none of us can live in a bubble. All that any of us have or get or are or will be is what we take from the world of others. Even genuinely feral children need mothers and fathers. Nothing is in isolation.

Original ideas, not simply those that no one has thought before but original in the sense that one has come to those ideas by ones own efforts, are still tied to what came before and from all around. Newton, for example, came up with the original idea of predicate calculus, and so too did his contemporary Leibniz. The two of them fought for a lifetime claiming the other stole his idea. Neither seemed willing to admit that arriving at the same place at the same time was anything more than completely realistic given the nature of the theme of the time. Newton, to his everlasting credit, did say that he saw so far because he stood on the shoulders of giants.

Most people seem to confuse the idea of original thinking with the idea of a new idea. No, it means that one comes to the idea by ones own thought rather than by mimicry of others. Erich Fromm covers it nicely and succinctly in Escape From Freedom. Eric Hoffer covers it equally well and very differently in The True Believer. Neither steals from the other, and yet both come to similar conclusions. Original thinking is original to the thinker. We mostly encounter group-think. those pitiful fools who take the ideas of others as their own without putting any effort into thinking for themselves will come out with hackneyed cliches such as "Give back to the Community." The list is long and forever growing. The point is that most people do not think for themselves, some because they are not capable of thinking well, most because they don't value the exercise. Ideologues take pride in not thinking for themselves, and it shows in that they make noises in English such as "Coming from a Place of Need,"for example. One can immediately spot the unthinking by paying only the slightest attention to the phrases that come out. It is, for the most part, an experience in embarrassment. But to parrot the idiocies of another as one own thought is not plagiarism, it's simple stupidity at work. It doesn't warrant condemnation or even criticism: it's just embarrassing, like a drunk playing with himself at a dinner party.

I have recently encountered the headline of a local hand-out paid for in part by the socialist M.P. Libby Davies of Vancouver, Canada, the line reading: "All Hail the Librarians."

There is a significant difference there between plagiarism and cliche mongering. Plagiarism is to steal the ideas and words of another, a theft of intellectual property, as serious as the theft of anything else. In the idiot world of the Left, "Property is Theft."

I don't recall which fool anarchist came up with the phrase originally, Proudhon or Kropotkin, or someone else, and I don't have to put it in quotation mars to show that I'm not stealing it myself. But I do to show that it's not my idea-- thank God. To the Leftist, some property is theft, other people's property.

For honest people, using a phrase well-know to all is simply using the language we all share. taking another's words and ideas and pretending they are ones own is nothing short of theft and is plagiarism. Using the cliche "All Hail the Librarians" is not plagiarism. It's something very different but something equally disgusting.

Using the phrase "All Hail the Librarians" is a stock phrase used by a man who won't or possibly cannot think for himself, a man who must go to the common store of phrases to find something he can use to express something he might like others to think is his opinion. It might be, to some extent, his opinion in fact; but it is not a real opinion. One can tell a real opinion because it will be expressed in personal terms to express the person's individuality. It is true even according to Chomsky who recognizes that it is almost impossible to mimic a random sentence another has spoken. No two sentences are the same unless one makes a very conscious effort to repeat them. If one cannot even do what all others do naturally, then there is a conscious program of taking stock from the common tore rather than putting in even the least effort to make up ones own for oneself and for ones listeners or readers. "All Hail the Librarians" is a taking from the store due to incredible laziness of the mind or because one wishes to associate oneself with the coiner of such a phrase, to show off ones erudition, ones broad learning, to play a joke on the reader who will, or most likely will not get the reference to the source, to make oneself feel intellectually superior to the rest. One might claim, if only it were true, that "All Hail the Librarians" is a touch of 'irony.' Ah, if only it were so. No, "All Hail the Librarians" is a poke at the readers who will read the phrase naively, giving the writer a chance to smirk at his ignorant readers.

Who would do that? A fool who cannot think for himself, is who. A fool who would do that, use a cliche few would recognize, is one who also cannot think of a new way to use the cliche to invest it with irony and surprise and newness. The fool who would use that cliche is one who also uses the most despicable cliche available to him in such a case. The writer shows his utter contempt for his readers in using an obscure cliche he can be sure few will recognise, one that will make those few cognoscenti winch at his foul mind, and one who is too dense to realize the nature of either effect. It is a pretentious and nasty thing to do to people, and the outcome is to expose the writer as both, not as the clever writer the writer thinks himself to be. Not clever, this writer shows himself to be a clear case of "the banality of evil." This is a smirking, smarmy little clerk who wishes to be big, to be part of some larger entity to give his tiny form a greatness he himself dos not have and will never have in himself. He uses a cliche to make himself part of a greater entity that he can pretend is who he is. And what borrowed-- rather than stolen-- cloak of identity does he wish to conceal his smallness under?

The stock phrase "All Hail the X..." comes to us via the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Communist Revolution, a failed one at best. "All Hail the Revolutionary Vanguard of the Working Classes and the Peasants" is often how it goes or some ridiculous variation thereof. Some party. And to use a pretentious allusion such as that is to betray not only the working classes and the peasants but it is to betray a lack of irony and an ability to be clever. It does expose the writer as a mindless and petty creature who has no identity and no ability to be free of his failure as a person, one who must flee into the store of pre-fab statements he cannot think of of his own accord. 'Oh, that's clever' thinks the writer, 'I'll use that to show off my depth and awareness of coolness, to associate myself with a grand movement of which I am no part but that might give me stature in my own mind.' It is, to be fair and accurate, phony. It's also nasty and bitter. The writer who would use such a cliche must know that few will come across it with any awareness of its connotations. It's a signal to the few that the writer is one of them, that he's part of the in-crowd, a clever fellow like they. The masses, they are too stupid to get the inner meaning of the writer's prose, too unsophisticated to know the real cleverness of the this misunderstood genius. It is a signal that the writer despises his audience, and that the general audience will not even know he just shit on them, metaphorically, of course.

The writer of "All Hail the Librarians" didn't plagiarize anyone in particular, he did something far more dishonest. He attempted to deceive his readers in a more fundamental and sneaky and low way: he pretended the ideas he used are his own and that he is clever for having done so, far cleverer than the mere fools he writes to or at. 'The fools I write for won't know what this is but you who are clever like I am will see it right off and you'll see how clever I am, just like you.' How cheap, stupid, and phony. How nasty and hateful it is, all the more so because of the obvious deception he tries to carry off under cover of allusion. Better if he had simply plagiarized a better writer than himself, in which case we might have at least found some original thought for our time and effort.

We all live in a shared world, all of us being Human and in debt to all before us and to those we share the world of life with. But it doesn't mean we cannot contribute by our own efforts to the whole something good and perhaps grand if we try. Parasitic and nasty sneering manipulators do nothing much good for any of us. The average plagiarist simply makes a disgusting fool of himself; the banal little creature who sneaks like this one above is worse in that he is a worm eating away at honesty when and where he will be unlikely to be caught out. For that we all suffer. That kind of writer pisses in the milk we should all have to share. To that writer I would suggest "Steal this Book."

Here, you see, I know well in advance that few of the readers will know the allusion I made. It is specifically for the creepy writer, but I will make it plain to all because it's the point I make for the sake of all rather than just him: In the early 1970s a writer of sorts, one not much better than the fool who wrote "All Hail the Librarians," Abby Hoffman, write a book entitled Steal this Book. It was about stealing from the "rich," a book geared toward those we would today call "the poor."It's not interesting unless I explain it to those who don't get it. If I were to simply leave it at that I'd only slightly amuse the writer above and leave the rest wondering what special knowledge I have that makes me so clever. I live in a shared world and I give back to the community, unlike the fool above who wishes to gain attention and approval of his betters. Hoffman as a Yippy in the time of Hippies. He compiled a book of sneaky details on how to steal from people on the sly. Yes, and educated and clever man, Hoffman was also a man who despised the poor he pretended to write to. He made a living using them to do his dirty work, to make him wealthy and renowned. The allusion is clear, yes? We all share a responsibility to be honest, not living only for ourselves and our vanities. Take, give back, and be honest about your debts and your dues. We do not live in bubbles and we do not have a right to despise others for the sake of satisfying our own twisted egos.

"All hail the turfing of the sleazy cheat who lives off the poor and pretends to like them."