Saturday, April 24, 2004
STORIES LIKE THIS DON'T MAKE MEMBERS OF MY PROFESSION LOOK VERY GOOD
Certain professors have, apparently, been "writing" op-ed pieces that were actually written by someone else
I started searching LexisNexis and other databases for op-eds written by academics the NEI touts as "experts." I printed out a healthy sampling, grouping them chronologically and by subject area. Searching on key phrases led me to other academics' op-eds. Once sorted, it didn't take a forensic crime lab to determine that one person's literary DNA is all over those articles.And we're supposed to convince our students that plagiarism is bad.
Take the argument that the increased use of nuclear power leads to fewer greenhouse-gas emissions. Op-eds on that subject, for instance, ran between 1997 and 1999 with different bylines in three newspapers. Each writer dismissed the claims of "environmentalists" or "skeptics" that greenhouse-gas emissions "can be reduced" without nuclear power. "They are dreaming," said one op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 2, 1997. Yes, concurred another in the Record of Northern New Jersey on Jan. 5, 1998: "They are dreaming." And Dallas Morning News readers awoke on April 5, 1999, to learn from Landsberger that those lazy enviros were still in the sack: "They are dreaming," he wrote.
Or take the campaign to locate low-level nuclear waste facilities in various states. Between 1990 and 1996, three academics and a physician writing op-eds in newspapers in four states -- Nebraska, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas -- all assured readers that nearby sites would "be among the safest and best-engineered" waste facilities in the country.