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I hate plagiarism.

June 5, 2011

How could anyone even remotely familiar with the internet think that they can get away with plagiarism?  I’ve always found plagiarism fairly easy to spot.  The writing style changing abruptly in the middle of an essay is the most common clue.  Unusual phrasing and word choice also make me suspicious.  I first encountered plagiarism many years ago while teaching.  That was long before the internet and I was only able to prove the students’ (Yes, more than one!) guilt because they plagiarized from major magazines which I had recently read.

Now Google makes the job so much easier.  Just select a unique phrase to Google and you’ll probably find the source article on the first try.  You can also put the phrase in quotes for greater accuracy.

Do not plagiarize.  You will be caught.

Especially if you publish on the internet like The Canadian Charger article about cell phones and brain cancer.  “Cell phones do affect the brain” was supposedly authored by the editors of The Canadian Charger.  They might have added a few sentences here and there but the bulk of the article is a direct “copy and paste” from Dr. Magda Havas here and here.  The funny part is that Dr. Havas plagiarized the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection(Yes.  The Canadian Charger, an Islamic magazine, is actually quoting an Israeli source.  Surprising, no?)

 

Do. Not. Plagiarize.

 

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I do want to comment on the actual article.  The study cited by Dr. Havas as proof of a link between cell phones and brain cancer is flawed.  (Hardell L, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K.  Pooled analysis of case-control studies on malignant brain tumours and the use of mobile and cordless phones including living and deceased subjects. Int J Oncol. 2011 May;38(5):1465-74. Epub 2011 Feb 17.)

First, this was a retrospective case-control study which has an inherent recall bias because people with cancer are much more likely to recall all of their cell phone exposure than someone without cancer.  Second, some of the included cases were deceased so family members were asked to provide the information which leads to more bias.  It’s a biased study.  (Disclaimer:  I only read the abstract.  Life is too short.)

I’m sure that the Canadian Charger article was triggered by the World Health Organization  report which classifies cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.  Do you know what that means?  I’ll translate it for you:  “We have no proof but some people think it might be dangerous so we’re going to scare everyone to justify our existence.”

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