Thoughts On Plagiarism As A Thief, Blogger, And Author

On Jan 2, 2024, Claudine Gay resigned as the president of Harvard University amid public outcry over her failure to support the safety of Jews on campus before Congress and allegations of approximately 50 counts of plagiarism.

As an author and blogger, I observed the public judgment with fascination, considering that plagiarism has been regarded as the cardinal sin for every writer since time immemorial. Plagiarism involves stealing someone else's work, a universally recognized wrongdoing.

Most of us don't come from ultra-wealthy families, attend private boarding schools like Philips Exeter Academy, and then go to the top private universities for our PhDs. Despite our lack of privilege and opportunity, we still have to compete in a rigged world to provide for our families. Therefore, it's beneficial to learn from the mistakes of the elites so we can better ourselves.

Initially, I reviewed Claudine Gay's instances of plagiarism and didn't find them particularly concerning. It appeared she mostly wasn't deploying the proper use of quotation marks when citing another academic's work. Instead, she sourced them in her papers in various places. Seems like standard practice for most academic papers.

Then I saw something baffling.

Plagiarizing In The Acknowledgement Section

Claudine Gay copied verbatim several sentences of another professor's acknowledgments section for her own acknowledgements section in her PhD dissertation paper. Bizarre! The acknowledgments section is meant to be brimming with joy and gratitude toward those who aided the author in completing their work.

For my book with Portfolio Penguin, never would it have occurred to me to employ “duplicative content” in expressing gratitude to my wife, editor, parents, sister, and friends. I used this section to write freely.

The top two yellow highlights are attributed to Claudine Gay in the acknowledgments section of her Ph.D. dissertation. The bottom two highlights are from Jennifer Hochschild, a professor at Harvard University.

Upon encountering this instance of plagiarism, my perspective on the gravity of Claudine Gay's offense shifted. Unlike the ease of copying and pasting available today, back in 1997, one had to deliberately type out words, considering the internet was only in its early stages.

Why would someone copy someone else in a section so insignificant in a research paper? Laziness perhaps? This is considered low-grade plagiarism. But it may explain why there are 50 accusations of plagiarism in only 11 papers.

Thoughts On Plagiarism As A Young Thief

If you believe you can escape consequences, the tendency is to engage in more questionable acts. This became evident in my elementary school days in Taipei, Taiwan.

Given we had no money, my friends and I would collect spare change found around our houses, pool it together, and purchase a giant Slurpee cup. Before filling the Slurpee, we'd cram in as many candy bars as possible.

Successfully executing our candy heist for years, I adopted a more casual attitude towards stealing in middle school and high school. While not a kleptomaniac, I developed a habit of taking more than what was justified.

For instance, my friends and I would also fill up our water cups with soda at McDonald's. Maybe it’s because I felt entitled since I worked there for $4/hour and could eat all I wanted while on the clock.

In high school, my thieving ways finally caught up with me when a friend and I were apprehended attempting to steal a Marithé et François Girbaud shirt and jeans from a department store. Taken to the backroom, we received a lecture and awaited our parents' arrival.

The absence of consequences fueled a habit of taking without repercussions until the day of reckoning.

Claudine Gay's plagiarism of her acknowledgements section as a 26-27-year-old PhD student might have been her academic Slurpee cup moment. While it didn't cause much harm, it potentially set a precedent that plagiarism was something she could evade punishment for.

Thoughts On Plagiarism As A Blogger

You might find it intriguing that each time I publish a new post, including this one, I encounter word-for-word plagiarism from at least five websites. Some website owners simply scrape my RSS feed and reproduce my content verbatim.

In the early days of Financial Samurai, I attempted to halt this plagiarism. Initially, I would send an email, urging them to respect the writer's code and create original content. Subsequently, I even resorted to using a cease and desist letter template with more forceful language. The results were mixed – sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

Frustration and anger welled up. Why couldn't these individuals produce their own original content? It’s not that hard, is it?

After several years of attempting to combat this issue, I threw in the towel. Every time I convinced one website to cease, another would effortlessly take its place.

Over a decade ago, I also disabled all my link back notifications, which used to alert me whenever another website copied my work. Some websites were so lazy that they left the links back to my posts in the content they copied.

For a while, blissful ignorance prevailed. I trusted Google to credit the original author most of the time, so I decided to let things be.

Example of a blogger plagiarizing Financial Samurai
Example of a blogger plagiarizing Financial Samurai. Copied my tagline, my title, took my chart and changed the source to his own

Reminded Of Plagiarism Again As a Blogger

After about five years of relative peace due to ignorance, I was reminded about the annoyance of plagiarism when I wrote a new cost called, How To Be More Creative: Thoughts From A Writer, Artist, and Pianist. For my post, I asked Colleen Kong-Savage, an illustrator for Financial Samurai, her thoughts on creativity.

I quoted her perspective below,

“What works best is that you have some structure in place – boundaries or a set of rules. It gives the artwork some focus. In Charlie's example it was the timeframe. For me, maybe it'll be a limited color palette. Or maybe it'll be a theme or it'll be variations of a shape.

Visual arts is not just drawing. It's color, design, ideas, and feeling. We all have art tendencies. Color – we get dressed by deciding what colors match or go with patterns. Design – shifting furniture around in the room to create flow and balance the space. 

I get a lot of ideas from seeing/hearing other people's creative work. You remix those same building blocks/legos – it's all been done – but you put in your handprints – your style, your sensibilities – and that's what makes it an original. 

Scraper Sites Get More Sophisticated

No sooner had I published the post than Colleen contacted me, expressing frustration and asking why I changed her words. Perplexed, I had no idea what she was referring to, as I had simply copy-pasted her advice into my post and provided a link back to her website with her approval. I believed I was being helpful, offering exposure and a valuable backlink, the currency of the web.

It turned out that Colleen also had Google alerts for mentions of her name on the internet. When I published my post, a scraper site reproduced it but altered about 30% of my words, including her passage. It seemed the scraper sites were becoming more sophisticated to rank on Google.

Fortunately, I've encountered only a couple of incidents where a scraper site outranked my original article on Google. There may be more instances, but I don't bother checking since I'm not keen on SEO. My focus is on expressing my thoughts without dealing with the shenanigans of manipulating search engines for more traffic.

If Google, Bing, and other search engines couldn't discern which website published the original article, I would be frustrated by the prevalence of plagiarism. However, since they can, I acknowledge online plagiarism for what it is and move on.

Below is an example of a woman on LinkedIn named “Tengku Badariah” plagiarizing my post, Are You Smart Enough To Act Dumb Enough To Get Ahead. I reached out and asked her to at least link back to my post if she was going to lift 95% of my content. But she didn't.

Tengku Badariah on Linked in plagiarized Financial Samurai and doesn't give credit

Writing Original Content As A Blogger Is Hard

Supposedly, over 90,000 articles are published online every day. If each article averages 800 words, that's 72 million new words daily. With so much volume, there's likely some overlap of words, hence the appropriate use of the words “duplicative content.”

Blogging requires writing consistent and opinionated content, a challenge leading many bloggers to quit within a year. Those who persist may hire freelance writers to generate traffic and revenue. However, this type of writing is generally soulless, strategically written for search engines instead of humans.

My aim is to produce original content on Financial Samurai, facilitated by writing about personal experiences. Since I'm unique, my experiences are distinct. For instance, the tiff I had with my wife on the first day of 2024 is exclusive to me.

Numerous personal finance topics have been discussed extensively. When I write about such topics, I credit appropriately and provide my perspective.

Take the 4% Rule and the safe withdrawal rate for retirement, for example. I credited Bill Bengen for originating the 4% Rule in the 1990s. Subsequently, I introduced my perspective, contending that the 4% Rule is outdated, sparking a 380+ comment response.

Creating Original Concepts And Ideas On Financial Samurai

If you've read Financial Samurai over the years, you know I've continuously come up with unique concepts such as:

I generate these original ideas across various categories by consistently contemplating solutions to common financial dilemmas. Through personal trial and error, I share my opinions with the world. Occasionally, some ideas are built upon existing research, and in such cases, I credit the original source appropriately.

Out of the 2,300+ articles I've written since 2009, there are likely incidences of “lazy citation” or “duplicative content.” But I don't think there are examples of plagiarism. Feel free to check if you are so inclined.

Unlike writing an academic paper reviewed by only a few people in a closed setting, blogging is open for the world to see. Hence, plagiarism of an idea would be too risky.

Quotations Matter When Writing An Article

Again, I initially thought that the absence of quotations by Claudine Gay didn't significantly impact the context, given she usually sourced the person at the end of her work.

However, after considering the example of her acknowledgments plagiarism and reflecting more deeply on my own writing on Financial Samurai, I now realize the lack of using quotations for someone else's words is almost always inappropriate.

If I fail to use quotations when copying a passage, you, the reader, might be misled into believing that I authored the passage. This could be viewed as a deceptive practice on my part. Nevertheless, it's also plausible that the absence of quotations could be seen as a mere oversight by any writer.

Gray Area Of Using Quotations To Thwart Plagiarism

In my post, Fewer Self-Made Millionaires Than You Think, I link back to the Bank of America Private Bank study and credit them appropriately.

I was originally going to just copy and past this passage below from the report into my article without quotes. It's just a paragraph about the facts of the study, which I linked to right above. Will anybody really care if I don't use quotes? I wouldn't, but some would. So I decided to use some quotes anyway thanks to Claudine Gay's public trial.

The survey conducted by Bank of America involved 1,052 participants with household investable assets exceeding $3 million, all aged 21 and above. “The aim was for the survey to be a statistically representative sample of the U.S. population meeting these criteria,” wrote the report.

The above example is very similar to the many plagiarism examples others have accused Claudine Gay of conducting. I feel the above example is no big deal if quotations weren't used given I cited the BoA study. It’s hard to rewrite facts. What do you believe?

Now, if I claimed I conducted the survey, that would be a completely different story. I'm not aware of incidences where Claudine Gay claimed an original idea as her own in her papers.

If I I didn't use quotes above, is this an example of plagiarism or duplicative content?

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Thoughts On Plagiarism As An Author

Finally, I have published two bestselling books:

Both are original works that required a significant amount of creativity and time to write. There are numerous books addressing topics like securing a job, advancing in one's career, and increasing earnings. However, I am not aware of any comprehensive book guiding individuals on how to exit a job they dislike while having financial security.

Similarly, there is an abundance of personal finance books available. Creating a unique personal finance book that encourages readers to approach life's major decisions with a probability mindset was a noteworthy achievement.

Both books were made possible by drawing from my unique lived experiences.

Oddly, More Forgiving As An Author

If someone were to plagiarize the words in my book, chances are I wouldn't be aware of it. And since I wouldn't know, I wouldn't be bothered. However, discovering that someone had plagiarized my work might actually make me feel honored that my work was read in the first place! Kind of weird, right?

Imitation is considered one of the sincerest forms of flattery. Moreover, every author simply desires to be read. To then be read and then copied. Wow! The plagiarizer must have really loved my work.

If I found out someone were to take my idea and claim it as their own, I would still be disappointed in them. Nevertheless, since my books are copyrighted in the Library of Congress with a time stamp indicating their release, it's straightforward to prove I am the original author. Consequently, if things escalated, the plagiarizer would have to acknowledge my credit.

Try Not To Plagiarize Intentionally

Intent is the key word for deciding whether someone plagiarized or used “duplicative content.”

Given the vast output of writing, music, and art worldwide every day, overlaps are inevitable. For instance, playing the guitar often involves using the same three or four chord progression to produce a myriad of sounds, and in the realm of drums or electronic music, familiar beats are frequently reused.

Accidental plagiarism is a reality in such a creative landscape. The crucial distinction lies in whether one intentionally steals someone's work and presents it as their own for advancement. When in doubt, giving credit to those who have influenced your work is the right thing. If uncertainty persists, seeking permission before creating is a prudent step.

If you suspect your work has been plagiarized and you want due credit, don't hesitate to stand up for yourself. Recognition for your contributions is rightfully yours.

For instance, I commenced writing about early retirement from banking and achieving financial independence in 2009, contributing to the early days of the modern FIRE movement. Despite being a pioneer, my lower profile and minority status means I don't receive much credit. Nevertheless, I continue to assert my stance when relevant.

Keep On Writing Your Truth

Claudine Gay's public conviction is a good reminder that writing your own words matter. The higher your status in society, the more you will be scrutinized. It's just the way it has always been.

Whether Claudine Gay intentionally or unintentionally copied other people's writing with attribution can only be known by her. However, what's important is holding senior university officials to the same standards required by its students. All anybody really wants is to be treated fairly.

Let's hope we all learn from this situation and become better communicators as a result.

Finally, if you have plagiarized Financial Samurai before, I forgive you. Please just add a link back to this site or the relevant post where you lifted my work. And if I somehow copied your work, let me know. I'll gladly link back or quote you.

Is Harvard Professor Claudine Gay considered a plagiarist?

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What If You Go To Harvard And End Up A Nobody

When The Elites Go On Strike, You Had Best Pay Attention

Should I Get A PhD?

Reader Questions

What are your thoughts on the plagiarism accusations laid upon Claudine Gay? Is plagiarism more ubiquitous in academia than we realize? What is considered duplicative content or lazy citations? Why are standards seemingly different for university presidents versus the standards for its students? Are non-writers more easy to criticize writers because they don’t know how hard it is to regularly write deep bodies of work?

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33 thoughts on “Thoughts On Plagiarism As A Thief, Blogger, And Author”

  1. Blacks are crooks and thieves. They steal whatever they can get their hands on; geography doesn’t matter. Who is pushing Asians onto subway tracks in NYC? It’s not white people.

  2. I read your comment in your weekly newsletter about this article…which I thought was very good. On the other hand, I also felt you were sliding away from personal responsibility at times, using the “oh well, everyone does it” argument. (Doesn’t the stealing-over-several-years issue bother you now? Have you ever thought of reimbursing the stores you stole from?)
    Do you REALLY think Claudine Gray “accidently” missed attributions and quote marks, when she was so quick to use the “duplicative content?” I don’t, any more than I think Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin just “happened” to mess up. It’s much more difficult to impress people with your brilliance and verbal skills, if they realize you’re quoting someone else. Even the HARVARD CRIMSON admitted Gray plagiarized, but explained it away. Their next statement is telling: “…sloppiness of this kind is unbefitting a Harvard president.”

    (not to mention our current President’s knack for inflating his personal accomplishments, then explaining it away by saying, “When I get mad, I exaggerate.” Whoa, that gives me such faith in his other statements.)

    I’m a writer, too. (Eight books, so far, and hundreds of articles) I have a blog. And I’ve also been plagiarized before. It hurts — bigtime. But even if you can’t get these ‘duplicators’ to stop completely, that doesn’t mean their actions are perfectly all right. My ethics and honesty are priceless to me. And yes, I go far out of my way to attribute, use quotes, etc, in my writing.
    After all, you’re clear that you wouldn’t plagiarize. (Or steal anymore, so far as I can tell, even if it’s a cup of pop you’re not entitled to. I’m assuming you’re teaching your children not to shoplift, either.) Perhaps it’s better to take Dickens’ approach: “Let them have their little pot of filth, and welcome to it.” Please don’t excuse these vampires for what they do.

    (Thanks for listening. And yes, this post is important. Don’t stop believing that.)

  3. As a reader of your content for 6 months, this was my favorite article as it exposes your critical thinking skills for which I mostly agree with, especially your process of analysis. Thanks

  4. The Social Capitalist

    FS, your newsletter implied that poor polling means you should stick to financial topics. I disagree. This is an important issue but what I find in the comments are an immense amount of self-righteousness. And that’s because your person of choice on this topic is not well liked, not because this is a poor choice for an article.
    People are letting some major biases seep in to condemn her (I read most of the comments); and it’s a shame. She did not handle the hearings well, but she was put in a position to condemn hatred or support free speech – she clumsily chose the latter and I support her for that.
    The “plagiarism” is trickier. I don’t think she. A few poor word choices and a non-citation in an acknowledgement is a poor reason to fire her. But it provides the excuse for the real reasons – Americans have never identified with scholars, even calling them elite (again comments), but now we are going further, we vilify them. It isn’t to say they aren’t flawed, many seriously, but find me a group of people who aren’t. This is to say we are heading down a fascistic path- much like Mao and Pol Pot and Kim took. The “we will show them elites” path that puts doctors in fields and scientists to digging ditches. And if we keep it up, the fear alone will set back this country decades.
    Suck it up America (and Bill Ackman). Quit attacking someone who doesn’t wholly support your worldview. Realize that the Israeli army has and will again commit straight up atrocities. It’s what all armies do. Quit denying that fact just because Hamas is a terrorist organization and get out of the Old Testament – an eye for an eye leads to two blind people. And then who can see what is and isn’t plagiarism?

  5. I think Gay is not completely dependent on plagiarism. She is just a sub standard academic. People should realize that there are now tens of thousands of PhDs. It used to be that being a PhD meant that you produced something completely new or novel. This is absolutely not the case now. Most PhDs don’t produce anything close to new – it’s all regurgitation of existing knowledge or applying that in a slightly new way which is not novel. Here is a great example – someone got a medical PhD for claiming to invent the trapezoidal rule in 1994!!

    The worst part is that paper is cited 200 times.

    In this case for DEI reasons Gay’s credentials were less important, and in my view all this just shows the sorry state of academia.

  6. My view is she plagiarized and it should be judged regardless of intent.
    Sloppiness cannot be an excuse at that level or be allowed at really any level. Recently a relative in high school was accused of plagiarism because on an in school test their teacher recognized similar wording to a source work. Obviously not plagiarism, however the teacher was unrelenting and rescinded writing a letter of recommendation for their college application. This was before Dr Gays outing. She is held to a higher standard but at any standard she is guilty as charged.

  7. Sam, you’re tying yourself in knots on this when it’s very clear. To many, this is another example of an elite in society exemplifying the “rules for thee, not for me” ethos. Maybe it’s bad luck for her that this came on the heels of COVID, where hypocrisy at all levels of leadership became commonplace and so perhaps this is a bit of a backlash connected to that. In any event, the DEI mafia – or more like wannabe Soviet commissars – similarly have tied themselves in knots with and espousing postmodern ideas that tear objective reality to sunder. If we’re not careful, the impacts of this on our society will be to eliminate meritocracy and essentially transmute America into something unrecognizable. We are the UNITED States of America and rather than unleashing Critical Theories on every facet of our society that divide us, let’s take an accurate account of where we are, no smoke in mirrors or looking for ghosts, and then move forward, as we had been doing for decades on the societal harmony front and much longer as the experiment of America continues to manifest. Build, not just break. It’s easy to be critical, but what’s a real solution? These woke DEI folks don’t have any and that’s ultimately why we’re seeing their professional prospects diminish in fits and starts. I have seen some that still believe the “E” should stand for “equality” instead of “equity” – everyone gets an equal chance, not a guaranteed result. I think that’s an American way forward. Not this oppressor/oppressed narrative that’s so unbelievably trite and ignorant of history on every level

    1. She was specifically targeted and made an example of by the real rulers of this country, the Zionists. There is no question that a message was sent to everyone else, get in line, support the Genocide in Palestine, or we will make an example out of you.

  8. How would you characterize the title of your book. You chose to substitute one word, hoping to cash in on the recognition and appreciation for the well known bestseller Eat This, Not That. Perhaps even confuse potential purchases on who wrote the book. Haven’t read it, but assume it’s a general personal finance book, and about more than what to buy or not buy. So that tells me you wanted to draft off the success of another author rather than rely on a more accurate title. Interesting.

    1. Great question. Book titles are not copyrighted. So, you can’t plagiarize a book title. There are many books with similar or the same title. What differentiates them is the author and content of the book.

      Here’s more on copyrights.

      I would suggest you give Buy This Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom a read and then make judgement as to whether it has anything to do with a book about food.

      I could have named my book Eat This Not That, but that would mislead what the book is about. I like your assumptions on why we chose my book title. But it was not to draft on the popularity of the book published back in 2008. That book doesn’t have much popularity at all anymore. And food isn’t a relevant topic for my topic on personal finance.

      But your point gives me a good idea on another blog post that could drum up more interest for Buy This Not That, which I hope you buy on Amazon or wherever. Thanks for the idea!

      1. Dunning freaking kruger

        Buy This Not That is a very good book. Solid personal finance advice. I bought when it first came out. I’ve loaned it out and recommended it.

        I personally really like the BURL philosophy. Saved us from buying a vacation home when we should
        Not have.

        The book definetly did not have any food ideas. Unless I missed something. Maybe a new chapter on eating crow?

  9. If she would have said…”I condemn the genocide of any race, arabs, jews, or otherwise” she would still be president and we would have heard nothing of plagiarism. Sam, you probably would not have written this article.

    But she didn’t and that was regretful and marked the end of her days as president. Plagiarism was just the vehicle used to “legitimately” out her from a legal standpoint. Could have been any number of things…maybe illegal parking, claiming a dinner with university friends as a business expense… I do find it interesting that many decrying her regarding her lack of condemnation of Arabs (i.e., genocide of Jews) were fine with Trump not condemning White Nationalists.

    On to plagiarism. You describe wonderfully the nuanced levels of plagiarism. Would it really be a fireable offense if all one did was copy a line from a book dedication? Is that language even copyrighted? I like your July 4 comment in the comments section. If applied conservatively you could likely find an instance of the most strictly applied plagiarism in every academic’s history of publication. It is actually fairly recent that it just became so much more easy to find it via software and AI.

    I am not excusing it. It is just that the layperson hears “plagiarism” and often pictures a person copying page after page from another’s book and providing no attribution. In the academic world it isn’t seen that way. It is much more levels of plagiarism and one level not the same offense as another. Just ask Mrs. Ackerman.

    1. I agree with everything you said! If she had condemned the genocide of Jews in the way they wanted her to, this wouldn’t have never ended this way because it’s hard to believe they never reviewed her work prior to this. When you are trying to push someone down you will find a reason and they found “plagiarism” to get her out of there !

  10. I guess “necessity is the mother of invention”? One of my pet peeves is when people fill their free water cups with fountain drinks rather than water at quick serve food establishments. (Perhaps maybe I’m doing the same thing by purchasing only one fountain drink, but letting my significant other have sips from it???) But I NEVER heard of stuffing candy bars into a Slurpee cup before filling it! Now THAT is “think different” ingenuity! (Guess I am just very naive?) I am truly thankful you didn’t fall into a life of continued petty theft, leading into much more serious criminality.

    1. Pet Peeve? Who cares.. I hate paying $3-5 for a cup to fill it with sugar water that costs 15 cents. Fountain drinks are the biggest ripoff, only next to bottled water. Perhaps there is something about being frugal for financial samurais?! ;)

  11. Claudine Gay was simply not qualified or prepared to be appointed to such a high position at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. She only had 11 publications! That is really bottom of the barrel. Most senior professors have 100’s of publications. For example the MIT President she testified with has over 150 publications. The fact that Claudine only had 11 publications and still had to resort to plagiarizing is pathetic. She also could not think very well on the fly as evidenced by her disastrous testimony. Here is a quote from Caludine Gay: “It depends on the context”.. hahah! Even the way she said it and her tone was so condescending, like she really thought she was smarter than everyone else.. ended up being the shortest Harvard presidential term in history! There is no racial card here as the white UPenn woman president was fired even without the plagiarism issues.

    Claudine has no one but herself to blame for her disastrous testimony and substandard and shoddy academic workmanship. Claudine was given a huge promotion simply based on the color of her skin and her female gender. However, she obviously was not qualified or prepared to be in such a demanding and high position and failed spectacularly. This ended up costing the university millions of dollars in donations and immeasurable damage to its reputation. The saying is quite apt here: “Go Woke, Go Broke”. who gets the citation for that one?

    1. Let’s say she was unqualified. Why would the Harvard Corporation board risk blowing up their reputation and lose out on millions of dollars in donations, if not billions? It would be an illogical move to promote an unqualified person into such a high profile role.

      Perhaps the board did not properly do their due diligence? If so, with such damage, perhaps there needs to be a change in board members like what happened with OpenAI.

      1. The board was acting on their bias and discriminating, and should be replaced. Its plain and simple. Your telling me there were no other candidates for Harvard president that had more than 11 publications? Look we have had enough of this experiment with subjective and discriminatory DEI policies. We need to get back to using Metrics and Merit. The reason why America is so great is because it is still a Meritocracy, work hard and you can succeed, irregardless of your background. The days of frank racial discrimination against minorities and women are largely over, not completely gone, but mostly gone. As usual the pendulum has swung way too far to the other side so that we are now fighting prior discrimination with new reverse discrimination. It is wrong, and needs to be rooted out. In fact this reverse discrimination is breeding resentment and fostering more racially charged views and racism.

        On a related note, we need to bring back SAT/ACT testing, these are STANDARDIZED tests which helps admission committees select candidates who are more likely to succeed in College and Higher Education. If you don’t do well on them for whatever reason then you could probably make a lot more money and maybe even have a better life doing something non-academic. If you don’t get to take the prep courses, then guess what, you are just gonna have to study harder after school, and nights and weekends! The SAT is much better than grades at predicting success in college, and it can be used as one of many factors in an application. Life is competitive. Sports are competitive and so is academics and education. We need to be accepting and promoting the best and the brightest, not trying to artificially enact racial quotas so that stupid administrators can feel virtuous… so sad.

          1. Agree except irregardless should be regardless a minor error that takes away from the erudite comment of the overall post.

  12. As many Harvard’s best and brightest would likely (did) attest, context is important. The double standard here is egregious. Here we have a University President with what appears to be an overwhelming plagiarism charge. Students are held to a higher standard. In fact, every professional in every role is held to a higher standard. You give credit where credit is due. Editing the transgression after the fact is, “too little, too late” (original source unknown, but kudus for the idiom to the original writer).

    1. I would say there is nuance though. The question about plagiarism is intention and whether one is taking the credit of someone’s ideas or just writing facts in duplicative language.

      Like how many different ways can you write, “Our country was founded on July 4, 1776…’ etc.

  13. AI is already doing the open Internet content scraping and this will mount fast like a snowball. So the “unique” content one created will be embedded and fused into something different by word matches and other sophisticated algorithms. There will be no credit to original author sources. Like a Wikipedia.

    B. Akerman, the activist exec. shareholder is on a rampage now, thinly disguised as plagarism. He has a much larger political agenda. I wish the academic community was far more vocal.

  14. Claudine Gay had to resign because zionists didnt like her ans they are so.powerful that if they dont like you, you are fair game. The plagiarism thing is a facade, he dared to oppose Zionists and paid the price.

    1. So the president of what used to be considered one of the must prestigious schools in America refuses to condemn the genocide of Jews and it’s the Jews fault. SMH

    2. Dunning freaking Kruger

      A facade? She used the qualifier “context” in response to Jewish genocide. That was a softball. She failed. The only facade was her Harvard Presidency.

      She was then exposed as a fraud for past transgressions that went undetected. It’s called documented behavior. She got caught after the fact. It was Behavior replicated dozens of times.

      As for Zionists,I support them. Jews have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to defend themselves.

      People who like to use the term Zionist as a euphemism are morally and ethically bankrupt.

      1. No need to call yourself ” them” You are obviously a zionist who supports the genocide of innocents and doesnt care how many die for the sake of racist/ apartheid colonial illegitimate state of Israel. Where do your loyalties lay, with America or Israel? I am afraid, for zionists, US is something to just leech on. US image has taken a huge hit globally due to the infleunce zionists hold in every facet of American government. I think its time we let you guys fight your own wars. No more American boys dying for Israel. No more of my tax payer money to support the murder of infants and the bombing of hospitals. This makes the middle east hate us, and we are forced and tragged into support the sins of the zionists. I will.not have the name of country ruined due to the sins of highly entrenched zionists in the American powerhouses. My respect and adoration to all the Jews who have protested against zionist genocide.

  15. Thanks for this thoughtful article Sam. I’m convinced by your arguments and I too will strive to cite back to original sources in my future work. It rarely hurts to set your own personal standards for honor and integrity high.

    I have another perspective on Dr. Gay’s situation based on personal experience – In the past, I have copied a sentence or partial paragraph here or there to get through completing an assignment, be that in an academic report, or an e-mail. After struggling with the hard work of the research or just getting a task done, and thinking ahead to many other assignments on my plate it was tempting to take an “innocent” shortcut to wrap things up. In those times my mindset had been of trying to convince myself why it was not a problem. I would think, it’s just the acknowledgements, the professor cares about my research and my work, this is just fluff so it’s not a problem with respect to academic integrity. I have always struggled with writing, so writing up the report or academic paper after completing the technical work would usually feel like an impossible mountain to climb. Taking a shortcut to compose the acknowledgements would be unusually tempting! I wonder if Dr. Gay was feeling the same way when she was writing.

    One could make the argument that top performers should be able to focus their time on the highest output activity and be unencumbered by this kind of grunt work that doesn’t add to the core deliverable. As long as the core deliverable is credited correctly, I don’t see much of an ethical problem with this. Prolific artists have studio interns and business executives have secretaries to handle this kind of peripheral work after all, why are academics held to such a high standard?

    I try to do my own writing everywhere possible as a form of practice and continuous improvement on my own capability, though I still find it quite difficult at times! I have been using tools like ChatGPT for particularly difficult e-mails like firing a contractor or negotiating a refund for a summer camp deposit. It might be better in the long run to force myself to work without these tools at risk of the writing skill atrophying, but I find this assistance really helps avoid excessive time spent struggling and procrastinating with this type of assignment.

    1. Sure, writer’s block is common. But if one is an academic, where papers count immensely for their careers, then writer’s block is not an excuse to copy/plagiarize. And as a leader of a university, you have to set an example for your students.

      What is it that you do/write about?

  16. The Professor

    Such a great and balanced perspective on plagiarism. The biggest problem is having different standards for different people. It is amazing how it took so long to get a Claudine out of the role when the University of Pennsylvania president step down after her congressional testimony with no plagiarism accusations.

    You would think universities would be even more strict on plagiarism for its leaders and professors.

    It’s a double standard and hypocrisy that upsets people the most. As a result, Harvards reputation has taken a hit.

  17. I haven’t followed all the details of the Gay debacle, but specifically regarding the “duplicative content” I do think plagiarism must have consequences especially at an academic institution for goodness sake. Give credit where credit is due and write with your own words. There are thousands of words in the English language to choose from. Pretty simple.

    I was taught very clearly in middle and high school and also college that plagiarism was a big no and against every school’s rules and honor code that I attended.

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