Monday, June 08, 2009

The YWN CoffeeRoom, Plagiarism and Multiple Personalities

It seems that there is a rash of plagiarism going on over at the YWN CoffeeRoom.

In a discussion on evolution, four consecutive posters simply copied and pasted their anti-evolution arguments directly from Frumteens (without attribution). Mind you, this is *after* I called out another poster for plagiarizing (although, I suspect, he was merely copying himself under a different username).

"Toras Moshe" has a post that starts:

Once should never confuse science with scientists. Science is knowledge; scientists are people, complete with their own agendas, weaknesses, and dishonesties. Their PhD’s do not make them any more moral or honest or objective than truck drivers.

The Frumteens Moderator posted that back in September 2005 here.

"Hill of Beans" wrote an essay that starts:

Scientists are involved in finding "scientific fact", which is not the same as "truth", or even plain "fact." This is because scientists - not science - have agreed to restrict "scientific proof" to things that fulfill their own self-imposed criteria, which limits the type of truth they will find. Example: If an experiment cannot be reproduced in the laboratoy, it is not considered scientifically proven.

However, he stole that from the Frumteens moderator here (second post).

"Bogen" starts his piece with:

That Hashem first made man from dirt and then blew into him a Neshama is not in question. But to say that the Torah can agree with the theory of evolution is another matter entirely. The theory of evolution - and the word itself, which means slow change, the opposite of "revolution," which means sudden change - requires many generations of gradual development, and man was already functioning on the day he was created.

However, that, too, is ripped from FT here.

"Will Hill" starts his piece with:

Evolution, by definition, means "slow progress", the opposite of revolution, which means sudden progress. When did this "evolution" supposedly occur?

That, too, comes from FT here (second post).

That four *consecutive* posts simply rip their arguments from another source (and the same source, at that), tells me that something stinks in the CoffeeRoom.

I don't mind a paragraph copied and pasted (with attribution) to support a point you're making, but to simply mass-copy your argument and present them as your own is simply wrong (and doing it under four different names so as to make it appear that you have a multitude on your side is even worse). How about a little honesty guys...

The Wolf

(P.S. -- For the record, I posted in the CR thread about my findings. Let's see if the post is actually approved. UPDATE: It went up.)

16 comments:

Off the Derech said...

>How about a little honesty guys...

Even better, a lot of honesty.

Bilbo Baggins said...

Why can't TOMO and HOBo, both be FroMO? :-)

micha said...

It wouldn't be plagiarism if Toras Moshe, Hill of Beans, Bogen and Will Hill are all pseudonyms taken by the Frumteens Moderator.

As for the people debating against evolution... You have no chiyuv to believe in evolution. But if you think you know evolution and the related theological issues better than R' Aryeh Carmell and R' Aryeh Kaplan did, you're fooling yourself. They came to terms with contemporary theories of cosmogony, geology and evolution, and didn't see them as a challenge to emunah. Supporting these theories isn't kefirah.

They/He also doesn't seem to know that RNS has semichah from Ohr Samayach. Truth is, he's not a gadol hador. And his zoological education is from personal reading -- it's a hobby. But since the topic raised in the ban is far from being his chiddush, that's not very relevent.

-micha

Jeremy said...

It wouldn't be plagiarism, but it would be sockpuppetting. Not as bad, but also not on the up and up.

Kelly said...

You think that kind of plagiarism is bad? How about sitting in church (er, shul, in your case) and hearing a sermon almost word-for-word that was found on the Internet?

It seems that a common "reason" for it is that if the words come from God, then it doesn't matter who wrote them. In the case you gave above, the people probably have a similar reasoning, that since they are right they don't have to come up with it themselves.

And, regarding the point that "scientists are people, complete with their own agendas, weaknesses, and dishonesties. Their PhD’s do not make them any more moral or honest or objective than truck drivers.", I'd have to say the same thing about anyone with advanced religious degrees and/or ordination.

Abe said...

Kelly-- agreed. In particular:

"This is because scientists - not science - have agreed to restrict "scientific proof" to things that fulfill their own self-imposed criteria, which limits the type of truth they will find. "

...said the person rejecting a scientific theory because it does not fall into the realm of his self-imposed criteria based on a literal reading of Genesis.

Sauce for the Gander said...

Since we have Slifkin and plagiarism being discussed in the same comment page...

Anyone ever try taking a page of his works and Googling? Whole paragraphs are simply lifted with little to no rewriting. It's clear the man's scientific expertise is more with the web browser than with zoology.

BrooklynWolf said...

Sauce,

Care to give an example or three?

The Wolf

Something Different said...

My friend emailed me a link to a thread about funny shidduch stories where someone posted one of my posts. I was horrified to note the lack of credit or a link.

Zach Kessin said...

I personally have a tradition from my father of believing in objective reality. (I've wanted to say that one for a while). My father is in fact a professor of Biology at Columbia Medical School.

I will admit that I never read Slifkin. And I have also stopped reading YWN due to the overwhelming stupidity. I have no desire to spend time arguing with people who still claim that the sun goes around the Earth.

cipher said...

Zach is right. Wolf, why are you even hanging around there? And why are you expecting honesty, intellectual or otherwise, from them? These are the people who make Vos Iz Neias look good. It's like the Chareidi version of National Enquirer.

shira shakrana said...

Dear Wolfie,
This is the internet. When people post and comment, they make up names - you don't exactly tell us your name is Zev Schwartz and you live on L and 22. People make up stories, lie, plagiarize...it is all in good fun. Did you never comment on your own posts under a different name? I know bloggers do it all the time.
This is why the rabbis banned the internet, baby.

Zach Kessin said...

I have been on the internet participating in conversation in one way or another for 18 years (This September). And I can say I've never felt the need to respond to myself with a fake name. FWIW I have been posting under my real name more or less since day 1.

(Yes I've been on the net since rocks were soft and dirt was a fresh new idea, or at least since usenet was the in thing)

micha said...

Zach,

Very much so. Nov 11th will be 25 years, and as far as I recall, not a single anonymous posting. Unless it's a sensitive topic, like admitting to having been abused, I don't see the reason for it. After all, why bother debating an idea the author himself won't stand behind?

You end up with more extreme and more nasty dialog.

-micha

BrooklynWolf said...

There are other forums where I post under my real name as well.

I sometimes question why I maintain my anonymity on this blog... especially when I espouse the same views in public in person anyway.

The Wolf

G*3 said...

Aside from the plagarism issue, the arguments themselves are awful.

>scientists - not science - have agreed to restrict "scientific proof" to things that fulfill their own self-imposed criteria

As if "science" is an entity that can make descisions. "Scicence" is knowladge arrived at through the scientific method. By definition, data must meet scientific requirements to be science.

>If an experiment cannot be reproduced in the laboratoy, it is not considered scientifically proven.

And this is bad because...?

Science is the bogeyman to many frum people, and scientists are evil conspiritors whose purpose in life is to weaken our faith.