Don’t shade your eyes

Today’s Zits:

Has Jeremy been involved in “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own” (NOAD2)? Well, he’s certainly passed off as his own work something that was not. His defense appears to be that there is no person whose work this was; he wasn’t stealing from anyone. A bold move, but one that’s not flying with his teacher.

Brief digression: the origin of plagiarism. From NOAD2:

early 17th cent.: from Latin plagiarius ‘kidnapper’

The metaphor is of forcibly taking something from someone, usually for a reward.

Actual kidnapping is a crime, but plagiarism is not. However, it is an ethical breach, punishable by institutional sanctions in the worlds of academia and journalism. But there’s a considerable area of uncertainty as to what constitutes plagiarism — not enough, I think, to save Jeremy, but still a considerable area.

Now for the entertainment portion of this posting: Tom Lehrer’s song “Lobachevsky” (first performed in 1951-52):

The crucial part:

I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky. In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics: Plagiarize!

Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don’t shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize –
Only be sure always to call it please ‘research’.

2 Responses to “Don’t shade your eyes”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    I can sing you that whole damn song. Several Russian speakers have told me the lines in Russian are gibberish, and they differ in different recordings. He retired Ingrid Bergman in favor of Brigitte Bardot.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Yes, gibberish; Lehrer doesn’t speak Russian. As for the hypotenuse of the Eternal Triangle, Lehrer went though four women in different recordings: in order, Ingrid Bergman, Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day.

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