Plagiarism: Just the word has ended careers. Yet some of the most successful people in the world have plagiarized. They managed to beat TurnItIn – so maybe your professor’s dire warnings are overblown. Maybe the whole issue is more complicated than it sounds. Here are some of the top five plagiarizers and accused plagiarists – you’ll be shocked.
5. Malcolm Gladwell. His plagiarism is the sneakiest kind. He wouldn’t have been caught: Instead of rephrasing information, he just took anecdotes and stories and retold them, sans attribution, in his writing. Some would argue that this is not a serious issue, but since his entire brand is about making big claims about society and how the world works, it seems incredibly sloppy. Did he beat TurnItIn, or did he just think his readers would never notice? Maybe the world will never know.
4. J.K. Rowling. Yeah, you read that correctly. Although the case was thrown out of court in 2011, Rowling has repeatedly been accused of plagiarizing Adrian Jacobs’ 1987 novel Willy the Wizard. Whether she plagiarized or not, the case goes to show you that even if you are accused of plagiarism, you can still go on to be wealthier than the Queen of England.
3. Vaughn Ward. The rising Republican star was already well known for publicly stating that Puerto Rico is an independent country, and stated that he didn’t care what it was when people called him out. This was embarrassing, but what he did next will shock you. OK, maybe not: Half of his campaign website’s platform was copy-pasted from other Republicans’. That might not be so bad, but his next move was a real head-scratcher: He plagiarized lines, almost verbatim, from a 2004 speech by this guy named Barack Obama. Ward threw his campaign manager under the bus for the website statements, and never really addressed the Obama statement. While this plagiarism may have been a reason for his resounding political defeat, it has not held him back from a career at a corporation related to health care.
2. Jane Goodall: Goodall has done a great deal of, well, good over the years. She has brought attention to extinction and has provided insight into chimpanzees and their relationship to humans. Yet no one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately Goodall’s were somewhat serious. Her 2013 book Seeds of Hope featured many passages that were plagiarized not just from the Internet, but from Wikipedia, for goodness’ sake. This was discovered only when the advance review copies were sent for evaluation. Although this would never have passed TurnItIn, it somehow managed to get through the numerous editors at the publisher, Grand Central. Goodall blamed the plagiarism on bad note-taking procedures.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. They say that good writers borrow, and great writers steal. Yet in the pre-TurnItIn free for all that was Boston University in the 1950s, MLK failed to attribute scholarly material: He represented the ideas of another PhD student, Jack Boozer, as his own. In 1991, a panel comprised of professors from Boston University confirmed this finding, chose not to revoke his degree, and attached a letter outlining their findings to the copy of the dissertation in the library. Some have suggested that King got away with it because his professors held him to a low standard anyway due to his race. But think of it this way: Most people think King is a hero, and even though he has been proven to be a plagiarist, he still has a holiday named after him.
So as you see, plagiarism doesn’t necessarily ruin your life. And this list is just the people who got caught. It’s obviously better to pass TurnItIn and fly under the radar. With Unemployed Professors, that’s easy.