How stupid do they think we are?

Over at Slate Jack Shafer talks about Gerald Posner's plagiarism. Weirdly Posner seems to be positing an "efficient markets" model of why he couldn't be a plagiarist:

Clearly, if I were a serial plagiarizer, I would have scanned my own drafts with such [plagiarism detection] software before submitting to the Beast.

The Ben Domenech case actually shows that yes, internet-age plagiarists can be pathologically dumb. There are plenty of cases of small-time plagiarists; my friend Randall Parker of FuturePundit was pointed to another blogger who was copying his posts almost verbatim. Small potatoes. But if you're a professional journalist, you're going to get caught if you have any prominence if people can compare the text on the internet.

I think catching people plagiarizing like this is a good sign that there are some mental peculiarities at work here; cognitive biases if you will. This isn't cheating on college papers, unethical as it is, this is being unethical for short-term gains when there's a very high probability that you'll be caught and humiliated in public in the long -term.

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I do love how the more freely information is shared, the more quickly and efficiently plagiarists get called out. I do wonder what motivates people to plagiarize, when it's so easy to cite sources. Maybe because copyright laws have become so draconian that rightsholders increasingly prohibit even fair citation?