Wednesday, January 4, 2012

short early thirsty

Serious question:

Q. Which would you prefer? (circle only one)

1. Discovering that your beloved colleague plagiarized.
2. Discovering that your beloved colleague fabricated data.
3. Discovering that your child plagiarized.
4. Discovering that your child fabricated data.
5. Having all of the above happen, but go undiscovered by you.

I just read about a couple of academics who plagiarized and fabricated data. Each got a slap on the wrist and some bad publicity.

I get it. People want to get ahead. The former Yale football coach Tom Williams might never have been the Yale football coach if he hadn't lied numerous times on his job application. So he took a chance and lied. It paid off for him because he can now say he was the Yale football coach. Even if nobody ever hires him to coach, he can still make a good living as a Born-Again business speaker, ESPN commentator, commencement addressor, or methadone counselor.

A. __________________________


  1. I neither admit nor deny that I created this Thirsty, but I take full responsibility for it.

  2. I'd be much more bothered if my kid did it. Beloved colleague? What's that? But if a colleague did something like that, I'd probably rather not know.

  3. You put me in a real bind, Man on Horseback; obviously you don't want people to cheat, especially people you know or your own children. But then there is that old bloodlust, the call to wear that old shabby leather jacket, the holster with the ancient Mauser in it, the worn ID's better that I know nothing, because I would rain lead, Greek fire, and damnation upon anyone who broke the rules of academia.

  4. From the article about the plagiarists: "the scientists have agreed ... and to exclude themselves from serving as advisers to the service, among other things."

    In other words, they don't have to do any reviewing! "O this is hire and salary and not revenge!"

  5. Either 1 or 2. Both would be great to hold over her head. I'd be disappointed in my kids and worry that they would lose their jobs and move back in. If it was my wife, I'd never have to take out the trash again.

  6. Beloved colleague - bah, its kids every time. However -swop beloved mentor for the beloved colleague option. THAT would be a difficult choice!

  7. Colleague, I guess. But my kid is five. Right now I'd be thrilled if she plagiarized anything, as she is adamantly against ever being able to read.

  8. Kid. They'd have time to learn from it and recover, hopefully.

    Caveat: I have no kids.
    Caveat 2: I want my colleagues' jobs.

  9. Oh, I'd much rather discover that a beloved colleague plagiarized. I like my colleagues but I don't particularly look up to any one of them. Now if my MENTOR plagiarized...that would be hard.

    But not as hard as finding out my kid plagiarized.

  10. Well, I am an economist. So I hope my answer will seem "unethical" to you: Regarding my kid: Well, it depends where he cheated/plagiarized etc. I would point out to him that there is a good chance of getting caught plagiarizing - so he would have to take precautions.
    Otherwise, I would be proud of him: Just maximizing individual utility, without any regard for ethical considerations: The perfect young homo economicus!
    Regarding colleagues: I hope not to give too much away:
    Get your copy of the "Fatal Equilibrium"

    (BTW - the book is set in Harvard, and one of the central themes is a tenure process. Very funny if you have tenure..

  11. Erf. This makes my head and heart hurt as I segue into the annual freshman research project fiasco here in Publicschoolville.

    Oh, and did somebody plagiarize ol' econprof up there? Looks like some serious copy-pasting going on...Or could it just be little-man syndrome?

  12. Despite being a humanities person, I can decide this on pure logic.

    Since I can't say I have any colleagues that are "beloved" - the atomized state of DE teaching has created that world, probably on purpose - 1 and 2 are impossible and the only realistic choices are 3, 4 and 5. If I pick 5, then 3 AND 4 apply. That is still worse than 3 OR 4. So I can narrow it down to 3 or 4. 3 and 4 can both be rather mild cases or extremely dishonest. Only 3 can be entirely accidental, however. So going on that, I would choose number 3, my child plagiarizing, and hope that it is accidental (more an issue of carelessness) or a mild case.

  13. @Bubba: You should have provided a choice (6):

    None of the above.

    I can't answer honestly because I don't have kids anyway, but if I had plagiarized, my Mom would have smacked me so hard, a substance resembling mushy peas would have come out of my ear. So I never did!

    @econprof: With answers like yours, no wonder the economy is in the toilet. You must be very proud.

  14. I'll go with 3, as it provides a teachable moment that involves something along the lines of what might have happened to Frod, above.

    FYI, Jayson Blair (the NYTimes plagiarizer) is now a "life coach."

  15. I agree with Froderick, a #6 none of the above would have been about also #7? This could be despised colleague, so there would be some joy in seeing them tossed for their heinous crime? Oh, wait, this is the Misery......sorry, momentary lapse of reason.

  16. Wow, I cannot imagine Jayson Blair coaching anyone's life.

  17. What we really need in this country is a radical reintroduction of the concept of shame. And perhaps a but of shunning as well.

    Because the "guilt culture" thing is really not working for us.

  18. "Wow, I cannot imagine Jayson Blair coaching anyone's life."
    -Frog and Toad

    Well, his life is like one of those gawdawful grade-Z movies "Mystery Science Theater 3000" used to riff on, the films of guys like Ted V. Mikels, Ray Dennis "I never direct under my real name" Steckler, Larry "I just didn't care" Buchanan, Rick Sloane, Ed Wood, and the two masters of shit cinema - Coleman Francis and Hal "I sell manure by day, direct movies by night" Warren. In other words, you never make movies like any of the people I listed*, and you watch their films to know how NOT to make a movie. In the same way, you learn from Jayson Blair how not to deal with life by reviewing his mistakes, which has to be the most humiliating way to make a living outside of real estate, prostitution, and certain academic jobs.


    * They did mock Roger Corman's "It Conquered the World", but Corman got his shit together after the 1950s. Nobody on my list ever moved out of the grindhouse/Southern drive in ghetto, though some really tried.


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