Speaking of plagiarism…


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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13 Responses

  1. Avatar Aaron W says:

    Yes, but you see, if climate scientists make one mistake, no matter how tiny, it invalidates all of climatology surrounding anthropogenic global warming. However, if the good and virtuous climate skeptics make huge, bungling, ridiculous mistakes or outright fabricate results, why, they’re just trying to prevent this vast evil conspiracy against everything good and wonderful about rainbows, puppy dogs, and America.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Aaron W says:

      I should note that I really wasn’t posting this to make any points about global warming or climate skepticism, which are “above my pay grade” as it were. Really, my point is much more personal than that- the thought of plagiarizing on a paper and being caught doing it is, for me, about like imagining going to a gala ball and suddenly realizing that I was wearing no pants. But, when you hear about real-life plagiarists, it always seems like they went in for the big risk, even if the actual rewards were slight. It makes me wonder if that’s not part of the appeal for some people.Report

      • Avatar Aaron W in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Yeah, I realize that, and I probably should have been more clear. I was suggesting that in this case it was probably plagiarized because of political pressure, not because of any “high risk” tolerance, although that could be the case.

        It seems like plagiarism is pretty counterproductive in any academic field (plagiarism by undergraduate students is another matter) because eventually someone will find out and any original point you made will be lost. The high risk involved doesn’t even seem worth any potential reward.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Aaron W says:

          I see what you mean Aaron. I think I was sort of looking at it in terms of political pressure not to muck it up, because that’s one topic where you know whatever you write is going to be poured over by people looking for problems. There’s something almost masochistic about plagiarizing extensively on a political football report.Report

          • Avatar Aaron W in reply to Rufus F. says:

            Especially off of Wikipedia, which is incredibly easy to check. (Undergrads do this all the time; it’s sad to see from an actual professional academic)

            In the original comment, I was trying to be snarky, but I think it might have come off wrong. As a scientist who studies the atmosphere, but not necessarily anything directly related to climate change, it gets a little exasperating to see anyone still trying to play these games. It might have been worthwhile to double and triple check climate science 5-10 years ago, but at this point, it’s a done deal in terms of scientific validity barring any radical new discoveries to the downside (sadly most of them are to the upside…)Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Aaron W says:

              Oh, sure, you’re entitled to your exasperation or opinions. I was just saying that I can’t weigh in much on the issue myself. I study early modern Europe and the Ottoman Empire, so me pontificating about climate science would be about as helpful as a mailman explaining underwater oil rigs. But if you have some background, feel free to add context or your interpretation.Report

              • Avatar Aaron W in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Well, OK, it might be a little too after the fact, but…

                I think what really annoys me about this is that after the nontroversy of the “Climategate” emails, the head of the climate unit at the University of East Anglia almost had to resign, but no wrong doing was found in the investigation. These guys actually do something worthy of being forced to resign… and then they whine about the investigation. It looks like no one is going to do anything to them. (I could be wrong though)

                As for the science, (skip this if you already know) the greenhouse effect has been known to exist for over 100 years. The basics are actually fairly simple. The sun heats the Earth to a certain temperature, which causes the Earth to radiate infrared radiation. (heat) Most of the atmosphere (N2, O2) is transparent to heat, but some minor parts of it (CO2, methane, H2O) can absorb this heat and re-radiate it back to the Earth’s surface, warming it further. This is normally a good thing because otherwise the Earth would not be hot enough to have liquid water without the greenhouse effect. But by releasing CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) into the air by burning fossil fuels, land use, deforestation, etc. faster than they can be cycled by biogeochemistry, we’re inadvertently increasing the greenhouse forcing, causing the Earth’s temperature to rise much faster than is typical. You can see this rise in the temperature record, and even in multiple different proxies of the Earth’s temperature over the past 1000-2000 years (the hockey stick). If we were to look simply at the cycles in the sun, which are what typically have caused climatic changes, the Earth’s temperature would be going down now.

                None of this was all that controversial until it started to have political economy implications. Of course, even if the science is true, this doesn’t mean cap-and-trade or any other government solution is necessarily going to work. But then, at that point, I’m going to be as helpful as a mailman explaining underwater oil rigs myself.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Aaron W says:

                “…the head of the climate unit at the University of East Anglia almost had to resign, but no wrong doing was found in the investigation.”

                Ho, ho, ho. The Bush administration had lawyers’ statements that torture wasn’t wrong.

                PS last year my niece was 3. This year she is 4. Since her age is therefore increasing at 33% every year, I can confidently–and with cold, hard math backing me up—declare that in the year 2025 she will be 225 years old.Report

              • Avatar gregiank in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Its that kind of analogy that does not lead a person to think global warming deniers know what the hell they are talking about. Its more likely to lead me to think you don’t have a clue nor do you desire to find one.Report

  2. Avatar the innominate one says:

    I worry that in my master’s thesis I’ve inadvertently plagiarized, or otherwise independently converged on similar enough wording that someone might think that I have plagiarized. I guess I’ll find out when the manuscript from the thesis is published.Report