- Misophonia. Hearing people eat causes rage. Presumably this tells us something about brain organization — but what?
- Interview with Renata Adler.
- Teacher threatened with termination for not requiring unnecessary books. How dare he think that schools exist to help rather than exploit students!
- Edward Jay Epstein: Fareed Zakaria didn’t plagiarize. Zakaria used almost exactly the same words as Jill Lepore, whom he did not credit. But Lepore’s wording was banal. The interesting content was credited. The real crime is unoriginality.
- Outrageous behavior by Progressive Insurance
- Interview with Jane Jacobs
Thanks to Bryan Castañeda.
3 Replies to “Assorted Links”
Epstein’s idea that Zakaria did not plagiarize is a bit of a stretch. If anything, what Zakaria did was even more cynical, since what he did was a widely known Internet method called “spinning”. In spinning, individual words are swapped with their synonyms to proactively foil Google searches (which only detect identical text strings):
In other words, Zakarias is not just copying, he’s consciously attempting to destroy the evidence at the same time.
It’s pretty cynical, and when you compare the passages (which Epstein doesn’t show, making it harder for readers to check his own work, ironically making his own article disingenuous for similar reasons), undeniable.
Also, it’s a little unfair to suggest Zakaria did it to improve Lepore’s “banal” writing. “Banal” writing is not improved by spinning, as the sequence and structure of ideas (and, in fact, the ideas themselves) remain identical.
He didn’t do it to improve her work. He did it to steal it.
Seth: I’m not saying Zakaria improved anything. I don’t think Zakaria tried to “destroy evidence” — I think he thought it hardly mattered how the basic facts, which he properly credited, were laid out. You can’t “steal” something that is worthless, which I think is a reasonably close description of how much Lepore added to what her source said (i.e., she added almost nothing). Yes, Epstein should have shown the two passages. But I agree with his big point. Zakaria is being punished for changing an insufficient number of words. Like Epstein, I disagree that this deserves the punishment that Zakaria is getting. Let’s say I write “saturated fat is bad for you”. Sure, I copied this from someone else. Should I be punished for not giving a source? I don’t think so. It’s a banality. The mainstream media commit major crimes every day — the way they trust self-interested experts who grossly distort the truth. To ignore those major crimes and focus on this trivial crime is yet another sign of how poorly the media police themselves.
i have a hearing disorder that can lead to hyperacusis and misophonia in some people. i have it as the result of some ear damage, probably from a virus. somw sounds appear distorted to me – for instance the S sound is louder than it “should” be. sometimes i find it unsettling and i feel anxiety because of that. sometimes i feel disoriented because it’s harder for me to understand what’s going on around me. if i weren’t careful, it could become an anxiety type disorder.
Progressive’s behavior is perhaps not quite as outrageous as it might seem at first glance. The New York Times covered the story here:
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