Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Stupid Student Plagiarizing Stories

These stories are true, however names and a few details have been changed to hide the identity of parties involved.

Anecdote #1:
Let’s just say a college professor and science-blogger, we’ll call him Dr. Bob, assigns a term paper on ecology to his class. The semester is winding to a close, and this paper will constitute a fair amount of the students’ class grade. Upon reading the papers, one catches his eye. It is well-written, informative, possess both depth and clarity…….why, its almost as if Dr. Bob had written it himself.

In fact, he did write it himself. As a blog post–and one he was particularly proud of as well. The student had apparently ‘google-ed’ the paper topic (an issue near and dear to Dr.Bob’s heart!) and chose a post written by her very own professor to plagiarize. While Dr. Bob’s name was not directly attached to the blog post, multiple links to pictures and info about him were on the page. Tsk tsk!

Anecdote #2:
This is a person I actually knew. Knew and loathed. He came to undergrad fresh outta home school (red flag #1?), and my boyfriend at the time had the foul luck of being housed in a dorm room with him. We’ll call him Ted. Ted’s major at school, from best I could tell, was pretension, with a minor in flatulence. In Ted’s dorm room was a beautiful chessboard, which had a desk lamp pointed onto it–lighting it for effect on his desk. The only thing was Ted couldn’t play chess. He just liked the way it looked. The bookcase in Ted’s dorm was filled with thick books from the world’s greatest thinkers, so I figured that, while obnoxious, Ted MUST be intelligent by default after having read so many books. WRONG! At the end of the second semester, Ted was taking a Philosophy class where he had to write a term paper. Well, turns out, Ted handed in 16 pages straight out of Descartes’ Meditationsword for word, archaic English and all! When confronted by the Philosophy professor, Ted first denied it up and down until the professor pulled down his old copy of Meditations and began to read. Snapping the book shut, he said, “Either you’ve been alive for 400 years or you’re in some major shit.” Needless to say, Ted was promptly expelled from said institution. Last I heard he was attending an establishment with ‘community’ in the title, where I hope he had acquired a basic grasp of ethics, as well as chess. This was a particularly sweet episode of schnadenfreude for me, as not only was his nickname for me “Lolita,” but he wasted an entire ink cartridge to my laserjet on printing 100 flyers advertising his stupid classical radio show on the college radio channel.

I’m not sure which one of these is worse. Perhaps #2 as that’s just sheer stupidity and lack of ethics, rather than #1 which is mostly bad luck with a lack of ethics. Either way, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.


  1. #1 Craig Pennington
    November 17, 2006

    Perhaps #2 as that’s just sheer stupidity and lack of ethics… .

    It is number 2, but it is not mere stupidity. It is the unadulturated arrogance. The source of his arrogance may have been the propoganda within the home schooling community that actual schools don’t really teach. Perhaps he viewed his exposure to Descartes as unique (or at least unique to the home-schooled, since the most advanced reading that the product of real schools could possibly have done is Heather has two mommies. IMO, there is no more loathesome combination of characteristics than unjustified arrogance and hypocritical righteousness.

  2. #2 J-Dog
    November 17, 2006

    Thanks! These are two funny stories with happy endings! I am sure they both went on to great careers as Republican leaders of the religious right too.

    Your stories were so good, that I almost feel bad for typing GO BUCKEYES on your site! NAH!

  3. #3 Shelley Batts
    November 17, 2006

    Booooo….GO BLUE!

    Do you wanna get your IP address banned? 😀

  4. #4 Roy
    November 17, 2006

    I appreciate 1. for the stupidity, and 2. for the ballsyness.
    It takes a pretty tremendous ego/pretty tiny intellect to think that nobody is going to notice that you’ve lifted straight from Descartes. Especially from Meditations. I mean… that’d be like submitting the “To be or not to be” monologue when a prof asks for an essay on a personal crisis you faced, or maybe the balcony scene of R&J as a conversation between you and a love. It’s gutsy enough to lift from the masters, but to lift from their most famous work, too?

  5. #5 Scott Simmons
    November 17, 2006

    Yeah, I’m trying to imagine the state of mind that would lead one to think there was a philosophy professor, somewhere, who wasn’t pretty intimately familiar with Meditations. Love it or hate it, it’s one of the landmark works of philosophy of the past … well, back through the invention of writing, probably. Very odd.

  6. #6 Kagehi
    November 17, 2006

    Hmm. Was #2 religious at all? Just asking because among religious people its common practice to plagerize everything in site, stick your name on it, then only cite names of people you are quoting in specific cases where you are using your plagerization to attack them or because they are some famous person you want to be associated with. Original thought never goes into such works. They are nothing but a laundry list of thought “other people” posted on the internet or wrote in previous books, usually, if/when you ever trace them back to something close to the source, made up bullshit. In fact, that is the entire problem. They spend so much time, apparently, attributing the Bible to the word of God and ignoring the authors, that when called apon to present a well thought out argument in real life, they just dig up stuff that they think is “inspired” by some cosmic truth, and ignore the authors. Some of the crap that got made up about the founding fathers and others can be proven invalid because there is no “real” documentation proving they said any such thing, but finding the original lying asshole that came up with it is like trying to find the specific bird that crapped on your car, while you visited another country. There are not references or citations for “where” they came from, or if there is, nothing there says where they came from, and even if you find some older location, you still don’t know who first wrote it. You would have to have an archive of the entire internet from the first day they turned it on, then dig through it like and archeologist to find the oldest “layer” that contained the BS someone like Ann Coulter, who is a perfect example of how these clowns think, or rather don’t think, but just glue quotes together, is **actually** quoting from in its original context and source.

    Nope. #2 is the most offensive. It might not even be “intentional”, its just how a large number of people have learned to “believe” that you write such papers. And they have the Ann Coulters of the world to point at and say, “See! She does it that way and she is respected!” Hmm. Yeah, by idiots, not scholars or those who go to real schools.

    Does anyone know.. Do “home schools” have to submit “written” essays or the like to the boards that do the testing to make sure that the students are “learning” what they are supposed to? Or did some idiot deem that, “Too much trouble.”? Because, without that, all you are testing is the ability to memorize stuff, do some few things, like math, that require some thought, and **not** if the students are themselves able to actually think. A fact that scares me when considering the drive to both a) increase the amount of home schooling, instead of state schooling and b) the special “kits” sold by nutso branches of various religions to “teach the truth”. Add in to that the belief some of these people have that “thought” means, “being able to dig through some books and copy pages that sound like what you want to say”, and….

  7. #7 Shelley Batts
    November 17, 2006

    Some of the crap that got made up about the founding fathers and others can be proven invalid because there is no “real” documentation proving they said any such thing, but finding the original lying asshole that came up with it is like trying to find the specific bird that crapped on your car, while you visited another country.

    A beautiful metaphor. And dead on.

  8. #8 Dlanod
    November 17, 2006

    I hope you are saying that his “stupid classical radio show” was stupid because it was his show and not stupid because it was a classical radio show.

  9. #9 Shelley Batts
    November 17, 2006

    I hope you are saying that his “stupid classical radio show” was stupid because it was his show and not stupid because it was a classical radio show.

    Absolutley. I love classical music, but Bach and Mozart were turning in their graves at his commentary.

    Also, it was from 2-3am.

    So you can imagine its popularity.

  10. #10 sam
    November 17, 2006

    So example number two, by virtue of being homeschooled, was an arrogant ass and indicative of how all homeschoolers are? Is that really what I’m reading? Would I be correct then in saying that all blonds are slutty bimbos? Because I don’t believe that either assertion is true, and as a homeschooling parent, I happen to know that the homeschoolers mentioned, as a type, do exist, but they no more represent homeschoolers than a parrot represents birds.

    I’m sorry if my comment seems or is seen as offensive. I don’t mean for it to be so, but I feel a certain obligation to try to correct people’s misunderstanding of homeschooling. We are not all like that, those stereotypical fundies so often seen as indicative of homeschooling. We are as varied as the people who make up the public school system. Perhaps we do sometimes seem arrogant and brash, but considering the constant put downs and misunderstanding, it’s an attitude we’ve developed far too often, much like the attitude of those who characterize us as a being a certain way without any real knowledge of the subject.

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