Cutting and Pasting All Over Again

By | 2006/08/24

Carl Zimmer has a post up about the tremendous similarity between antievolution opinion pieces published recently by Jack Kemp and Phyllis Schlafly. It is a nice catch. (There may be a possibility that some publisher mixed up bylines. I’ll post an update if that is the case here.)
However, in antievolution this sort of thing is far from uncommon. There is, after all, a playlist of arguments in the antievolution ensemble, and each antievolution advocate is essentially a “disk jockey” of screeds. They may “re-mix” an argument, adding in their own particular touches. They may play them up straight from time to time. And, just as a disk jockey would be perplexed if you accused him of plagiarism for playing a particular song, so too do antievolutionists often simply fail to grasp the concept of plagiarism as something relevant to what they are doing. In theology, providing a “proof-text” is just what you do to make a point. It doesn’t necessarily have to be referenced; the important thing is simply to make sure that the argument is made. That there are other modes of thought that put a premium on originality and paying attention to priority is essentially alien.

Update: As I noted parenthetically in my opening paragraph above, it turns out this time that the similarity is actually due to someone messing up on the byline. No plagiarism in this particular case. See Carl’s blog for the details.

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