Monday, April 27, 2015

The Dexter Suggs plagiarism affair and the title "Doctor"

An editorial in Arkansas Business, talking about the Suggs affair, begins:

Under Associated Press style rules, most of which we have adopted at Arkansas Business, the honorific Dr. is reserved for medical doctors, dentists, veterinarians and the like — not for Ph.Ds. Therefore, we would never have called the interim superintendent of the Little Rock School District “Dr.” Dexter Suggs in the first place.

But unless Indiana Wesleyan University, which granted Suggs his doctorate, decides to rescind it, the taxpayers of Arkansas are on the hook for another $250,000. A quarter million dollars. As much as the median household in Arkansas earns through more than six years of honest labor.


This is not a correct statement of the Associated Press Style Book.
See page 85 of The Associated Press Stylebook 2013
By Associated Press.

Ironically, the title "Dr." was, at one time, more associated with those who held a degree granted by a university to learned individuals who had achieved the approval of their peers and who had demonstrated a long and productive career in the field of philosophy (in the broad sense of the term philosophy, the pursuit of knowledge). The appellation of "Doctor" (from Latin: teacher) was usually awarded only when the individual was in middle age. (from wikipedia)

The Arkansas Business editorial ends with the text:

So Suggs, kept in place by the Department of Education after it seized control of the LRSD, is gone, as he should be. But it wasn’t the DOE’s fault that a plagiarist was hired in the first place, and the state should never have agreed to reward such intellectual dishonesty.

Politicians talk a lot about incentives, both good ones and bad ones. The lesson our state government is teaching in the Dexter Suggs Affair is this: If you cheat, you might get a really good job. And if your bosses find out that you cheated, you might really hit the jackpot.

As one point, "who" is at fault for approving Suggs' thesis, or Glenn Poshard's?

As another point, lots of copyrists are still floating around: for example, Laurence Tribe, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and even the Vice President (who committed plagiarism at Syracuse Law School, but was quickly caught).


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