Sunday, May 30, 2010

Plagiarism and worse

During the plagiarism episode with SIU president Glenn Poshard, part of the defense was that proper procedures for footnoting weren't known at the time of Poshard's thesis. Flash back more than 200 years, and look at the defense of a snagged plagiarist. From a review by MARK BUSHNELL of an account by Ennis Duling on the plagiarist Thomas Anburey who wrote about the battle of Hubbardton during the Revolutionary War on uly 7, 1777-->

That was just the beginning. Another English publication, The Critical Review, found more purloined prose and stated that "we can pronounce this work, in its most essential parts, to be an ill-digested plagiarism from general Burgoyne's Narrative" and other contemporary sources. That Anburey's plagiarism was caught so quickly (in a time long before Google searches) suggests just how blatant it must have been.

Despite his apologies that they were "the rapid effusions of a confessedly inexperienced Writer," Anburey's brazen borrowing helps prove that he didn't write the letters during the period they describe. Indeed, works from which Anburey plagiarized were written as late as 1787.

And, of simply wrong things:

Duling might have left Anburey alone if his account had remained obscure. Unfortunately, some of his fabrications have been picked up as fact, even by some noted historians, and repeated. Once a lie gets into the historical record, it can be hard to remove.

Hmm, recall the idea that the inventors of the transistor foresaw only hearing aid applications? Gary Boone as inventor of the transistor?

**As one bit of trivia

The battle of Hubbarton is the only Revolutionary battle fought in present-day Vermont. The battle of Bennington (August 16, 1777) was actually fought in Walloomsac, New York.

**Background of the battle of Hubbarton

On 5 July 1777, Americans under Arthur St. Clair evacuated Fort Ticonderoga, and marched toward Hubbardton (in what is now Vermont). In 1778, St. Clair was court-martialed for the loss of the fort, but was cleared.

Readers of IPBiz may recall the discussion of St. Clair in another context: St. Clair commanded US forces in 1791 in "the Battle of the Wabash," the greatest defeat of the American army by Native Americans in history with some 623 American soldiers killed in action as opposed to about 50 enemy dead. That loss is roughly three times more dead than suffered by Custer at Little Big Horn in 1876.

Upper St. Clair Township near Pittsburgh is named for St. Clair.

***As one bit of trivia, "Rolling Rock" beer which once came from Latrobe, PA, also near Pittsburgh, has been brewed in Newark, NJ since 2006. "It comes from the mountain springs to you." Anheuser-Busch purchased the Rolling Rock brand (trademark) but not the brewery.

As one other bit of trivia on Latrobe, the code for the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport is "LBE", the initials of the author of this blog.


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