On the internet, there is no more stupid crime that plagiarism.  Everything on the internet is text-searchable, and so everything that ends up on the internet is capable of being checked for plagiarism in a matter of seconds.  There are even programs capable of auto-checking and others that will scan in printed text.  You cannot get away with stealing someone else’s words. (Stealing images is easier to get away with, but not for much longer.)

Yet, it continues to happen. One recent case is a statistics professor at George Mason University. Another is an Ethiopian diplomat. Among college students, it’s a staggering problem. (This is not to mention, of course, the whole Cook’s Source debacle.)

I have no idea why, either. I experienced it first-hand as a college teacher.  Almost every semester I had at least 2 cases to deal with.  (My last semester of teaching I all but threatened my students with torture, beheading, and eternal damnation for plagiarism. That one semester I had no cases I could detect.)  Andrew Gelman posted his “Top Ten” bad excuses for plagiarism. They are ridiculous and funny, and yet sadly I saw variations on those.

This is just a rehash of things everyone else has said before, but it is ridiculous that people still engage in easily found lies on the internet.  (Rule #4: Do not lie on the internet!) Plagiarism has to be the easiest lie to crack, as anyone can Google.  Do not do it.  (Moreover, the internet is most emphatically not “public domain”. )


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