[beliefs] Re: charges of plagiarism

From: James J. Lippard ([email protected])
Date: Wed Sep 15 1999 - 11:34:01 MST

On Wed, 15 Sep 1999, Linda Rosa wrote:

> Mr. Lippard:
> You seem to be questioning more like a guardhouse lawyer for your friend
> than an impartial investigator. If you were the judge in this case, I
> would move to have you recused.

You're entitled to your opinion. I don't think you have any foundation
for this based on what I've written, but that's irrelevant. Why don't you
see if you can avoid ad hominem and just deal with the issues at hand?

> Most of your comments indicate you have put the cart before the horse. It
> has been a very disorderly process which you've launched. Let's get it
> back on track.

I didn't launch anything, this thread was started by you and your wife
making charges of plagiarism which I have yet to see substantiated. I
have asked questions that have come to mind as I've examined the issue and
in response to issues raised by your wife.

> I accused Mr. Scheiber of plagiarism (a form of scientific misconduct) in
> an LTE to ScRAM, though I did not use the word. I have now. Let me start
> with definitions of plagiarism. From the NAS report, "Responsible
> Science," quoted by the Ryan Commission, plagiarism in a scientific context
> is "...using the ideas or words or another without giving appropriate
> credit. Plagiarism includes the unacknowledged use of text and ideas from
> published work..." The Ryan Commission specifically broadened the term
> "plagiarism" into the term "misappropriation," which it defined thusly: An
> investigator or reviewer shall not intentionally or recklessly a)
> plagiarize, which shall be understood to mean the presentation of the
> documented words or ideas of another as his or her own, without attribution
> appropriate for the medium of presentation..."
> Question #1 to you: Do you agree with these definitions, or do you wish to
> modify them in some material way?

They look fine to me. I would simply observe that plagiarism comes in
degrees, and may be intentional or unintentional. Presenting an entire
work of another as one's own is about the worst possible case;
unintentionally repeating an idea or story thinking that it is one's own
(e.g., as a result of cryptomnesia) would be about the best. The case as
you've described it would fall somewhere between these extremes, and is
complicated by the fact that we have multiple witnesses who claim that the
original work produced was a group effort, i.e., there was multiple
authorship of a single work, and that one of those authors was the person
being accused of plagiarism.

> If we cannot agree even on what is plagiarism, we will spin our wheels
> eternally.
> When making a charge of plagiarism, the accuser must make a case for it.
> This means alleging a coherent set of facts from which a logical argument
> can be drawn that plagiarism occurred. In other words, the alleged facts
> must be relevant to, and sufficient for, the charge. In my LTE to ScRAM, I
> alleged my case against Mr. Scheiber, as precisely, narrowly, and factually
> as I understood it.
> Question #2 to you: When and if proven to be true, are my allegations
> sufficient to make a case of plagiarism against Mr. Scheiber?

I think that if you can substantiate prior sole authorship of content
(either exact or substantially similar) which appears in writings by Mr.
Scheiber without attribution, citation, or acknowledgment, then you will
have made a case for plagiarism. So far, the cited witnesses for the
prior authorship of that content are (a) Bonnie Bullough, who is dead, and
(b) Wallace Sampson, who doesn't seem to know anything about the

> If you think there is a deficiency in my argument, our time is best spent
> either setting you right or plugging the logical holes you claim to find.
> Jumping ahead to proving the allegations would be a waste of time for both
> of us if we cannot even agree that I have a case with my allegations proven
> as facts.

It seems pretty straightforward to me.

> Just considering relevancy, the Scheiber/Selby article should not have been
> brought into the discussion. I'm dropping it for the time being. (Though
> I would like to hear an explanation why the Parascope site
> http://www.parascope.com/articles/1196/finalrpt.htm -- the one showing the
> "final progress report" -- has suddenly been taken off the web.)

The entire www.parascope.com site has been shut down. I suspect that the
issue isn't the particular URL. (The message produced for any URL at the
site is "This Site is temporarily unavailable. Please call the site
administrators for more information.")

> As to the question of the UAB researchers' charges against NTTSG. That is
> totally off-topic. I've noticed this is a tactic of yours and Long's, and
> it's a great time-waster pursuing endless diversions from a bottomless
> gunnysack of grievances. Let's do one thing at a time. I will say this

That's interesting. It was your wife who brought up the Scheiber/Selby
article and the UAB researcher's report which contained those charges, yet
you accuse me of creating the diversion into that subject.

I'm not interested in wasting time, I'm interested in getting to the meat
of the matter. That's why I have and will continue to answer questions
the first time they are asked.

> much, though: everything NTTSG did with UAB was part of an investigation
> into scientific misconduct and no aspect of that investigation will be
> discussed in public, or with anyone outside it, until the investigators are
> ready.

You won't even reveal the content of an advertisement published in a daily
newspaper, a matter of public record? Very well, I agree that it's not
relevant to the original issue, though it is now something that I'm quite
curious about.

OK, so how about a copy of the memorandum and some evidence of its
priority in authorship? (Fourth time asking.)

Jim Lippard [email protected] http://www.discord.org/
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