[beliefs] Re: charges of plagiarism

From: James J. Lippard ([email protected])
Date: Thu Sep 16 1999 - 11:20:54 MST

On Thu, 16 Sep 1999, Larry Sarner wrote:

> >> 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
> I think not. I have alleged that Mr. Scheiber "intentionally or
> recklessly" made his ScRAM review a "presentation of the documented words
> or ideas of another as his...own, without attribution appropriate for the
> medium of presentation". The particular ideas at issue is the "entire
> work" of analysis of Janet Quinn's bibliography. If the analysis is
> entirely mine, and he reported it as his own in ScRAM, that seems to me
> your "worst possible case". Why do you say otherwise? I need to know in
> advance that you regard the alleged misconduct as a serious enough matter
> to be worth the time to continue this thread.

No, that falls in between the two extreme cases I described. My worst
case was taking the entire work of another, removing the author's name,
putting your own name on it, and publishing it as your own work. You have
not alleged that. The case you describe is less severe than that; you are
alleging that a portion of content of a longer article is taken from your
document. The claims of others, which you have not yet given any reason
to doubt beyond your say-so, are that there was a product of joint
authorship that was the source of the quoted material.
> >> 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.
> Though I thank you for your guidance in how to make my case, that's not
> what I asked for. You've read my allegations in ScRAM. If true, are they
> sufficient? I'm not trying to be dilatory here. I need to know in advance
> that, if I go to the effort to prove my allegations, you won't come back
> and say something like, "OK, that's all true, but..." In other words, no
> fair moving the goalposts.

I think I'm being quite explicit about where the goalposts are, and I have
no intention of moving them on you. Again, if you can demonstrate the
priority of your document (so far I have yet to see even a shred of
evidence for its mere existence beyond your say-so), and a simple
comparison of the content of that document shows that it was lifted
(either word-for-word or in a substantially similar manner) for use in
another publication, without any acknowledgement or citation, then you
will have made a case for plagiarism. If there are doubts about the
priority of your document, that would weigh against your case. If there
is acknowledgment or citation of a group effort that others claim was the
product being quoted, that would also weigh against your case.

In short, we have here a set of claims and counter-claims, and in making
your case you need to be able to rebut the counter-claims. I have no
control over whether additional counter-claims will be made--that is
certainly possible, and they will have to be evaluated when and if they
are. But they won't be coming from me, at least not directly. If I hear
a counter-claim, I'll come to you to ask about it.

I'm not sure how else you would like this to go. It seems like you want
some kind of assurance that you can, for instance, produce your document
and then get a final decision from me about the matter. That is a
possibility, but it depends on the content of that document and what
evidence you can adduce to show its priority. After all, I could simply
type up excerpts from any published work, write an old date on it, and
claim that I've been plagiarized--to make the case, I need to show that my
excerpts were written first. I could do that with witnesses, by showing
some kind of chain of evidence to the past, by showing prior publication,

> >> 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.
> >
> >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.
> Penultimate comment on this off-topic: This is an illustration of why I'm
> being so careful to get your agreement on the "preliminaries". I did NOT
> accuse you of creating the diversion into the subject of the UAB
> researcher's report. I do regard bringing up the researchers'
> unsubstantiated _charges_ against NTTSG as a diversion. YOU brought THOSE
> up.

True, but only after being led down the path and into the garden. Once
I'm there, I figure I may as well smell the roses. I don't see my
comments and questions on the report as being any kind of diversion--I
just had some additional questions about something that your wife had
kindly brought to my attention. It seems to be something you are
uncomfortable talking about, so I'll drop it after my final observation on
your last remarks below.

> >> 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?
> Final comment on this off-topic: I should have said in the above,
> "everything NTTSG did _or did not do_ with UAB ..." I will neither confirm
> nor deny that NTTSG placed any advertisements. But you should consider the
> veracity of the source of the charges. For example, that same source said
> Watchman Fellowship formed NTTSG. That, at least, is not true. A former
> regional director of Watchman Fellowship was and is valued as one of the
> 50+ members of NTTSG, nothing more. Anticipating the next question, I will
> also say that Watchman Fellowship has not been a source of funds for NTTSG
> or for any of its activities. Further, the chairman sayeth not.

That's extremely odd. "I refuse to confirm or deny S's charge X, but I
will point out that S was wrong about Y, so as to create doubt about S's
charge X without actually addressing the issue." I think you would have
been better off leaving it at "No comment."

And, finally, to put back in an important section of my last posting which
you trimmed from your reply:

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

Make that five times. Is there some reason you don't want to do this?
Would you like me to reimburse you for postage and photocopying? I'd be
happy to pay you 10 cents a page for photocopying and an ounce of postage
for each four pages. I'll even bump it up to $3.50 to cover the envelope,
too. Or, if you like, you can fax it to me and I'll cover the cost of
your phone call. Or, if you have a scanner, you can email it to me, and
I'll give you a buck for your time.

Jim Lippard [email protected] http://www.discord.org/
Unsolicited bulk email charge: $500/message. Don't send me any.
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